UNB Alumni
Telling our #ProudlyUNB stories

Fredericton to Rio: Alumna blogs her volunteer experience at the 2016 Olympics

Author: Young Alumni

Posted on Aug 22, 2016

Category: Inspiring Stories , UNB Fredericton , Engineering , Young Alumni

Olivia Babcock (BScEng '16)

While most of the country spent the past few weeks with eyes glued to the television, this was not the case for UNB young alumna, Olivia Babcock (BScEng '16), who experienced the thrill of the games up close and personal as a volunteer at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

From beach volleyball and men's soccer, to Sugarloaf Mountain and Dois Irmaos, Babcock documented her 20 day Brazilian experience in a blog, Without & About,  that will surely make you want to volunteer in 2020.

Babcock applied to volunteer for the Summer Olympics in 2014, while preparing for an international exchange to Tasmania, Australia through the UNB exchange program. After several months and various online interviews, she was approved to join the volunteer team, following in her father's footsteps who volunteered in 1988 and her grandfather's in 1976.

"I’ve always loved the Olympics," says Babcock. "I can vividly remember the summer of the Beijing Olympics as a time when I quite honestly sat on the couch all day watching the tape delayed events for an entire two weeks."

"Getting to see some of the best athletes in the world come together in celebration of sport from a closer perspective was what I think really convinced me to apply."

Babcock with Canadian beach volleyball players Heather Bansley (left) and Sarah Pavan (right) after their game one win.

During her volunteer shifts from Aug. 5 -18, Babcock was stationed in the Beach Volleyball Arena (BVA) as a member of the Mixed Zone Team, which involved helping the press set up post-game interviews with athletes and ensuring they remained in authorized areas of the arena.

Prior to landing in Rio, as written in her blog, Babcock wondered if volunteering in the Mixed Zone may bring her close to Sarah Pavan, Canadian beach volleyball player. Just days into her volunteer shifts at the BVA, Babcock met both Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley, a moment which has now become a top highlight from her trip.

"I’ve been a fan of the Olympics for so long and never imagined in a million years that I would get to watch the games in person, let alone contribute in any way to making the games a success," she says.

On her few days off from volunteering, Babcock watched the Brazil vs. Honduras men's soccer semi-final, visited Sugarloaf Mountain, hiked to see Christ the Redeemer and Dois Irmaos, enjoyed delicious Brazilian cuisine and cheered on our nation at Canada House. "Every time I travel abroad there are always a few moments when I feel proud to be Canadian, but on this trip, there were too many times to count," she says.

Chirst Liv Flag


"Visiting Canada House on two occasions and singing the national anthem together when Canada medaled in synchronized diving and high jump were two other moments where I got quite teary-eyed."

Babcock feels extremely grateful to have not only taken part in Olympic history, but to have shared the experience with new friends from around the world. "Working at the BVA over the past two weeks has definitely been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and thinking about it now, it still shocks me that I got so lucky."  

Read Olivia's blog Without & About for her full 2016 Summer Olympics' experience.