After years of anticipation, Kaohsiung finally put up a show in hosting the WG. I remember my first encounter with the WG actually came from merely a few days after obtaining the right to host the games by Mayor Frank Hsieh. It was the summer of 2004, where we organized the 1st SM Summer Camp. Once we got the news that we could join the celebration with the city government, we changed our camp schedule and paraded the city with other athletic teams. This milestone scene was later projected onto a few city publications, including Kaohsiung pictures, and the jumbotron of the WG main stadium during the closing ceremony. I still have that group photo of us which the camp shot it with Mayor Hsieh. That really was something extraordinary.
Over the years I had volunteered in numerous events and training sessions, I remember those times I had to ask either ask someone to sign-in for me, or rush back from the Saturday morning meeting to join the event, or both. Among all I served in the dragon boat festivals the most, where I met a few down-to-earth PE teachers. Another time at a Martial Art tournament I was thrust with the role of MC and instant translator. During the process the early volunteers even branched out to the bureau of tourism to welcome the cruises docking by Kaohsiung Pier. Me, like the KOC itself, grew with these warm-up games. We were silently developing, and came up with a bang at the WG. Now come to think about it, I remember being at one of the training sessions and the director from social bureau said that previous WG had 3000+ volunteers and for our event we were aiming for 5000+. At the time the first thing that came across my mind was: the KOC was either too inefficient or crazy to come up with a goal like that. It turned out that I was wrong. The reason that we needed so many volunteers was because the KOC had so little budget: even some of the very important positions (i.e. trainers, competition organizers) that were supposedly being paid were supported by volunteers. The whole volunteer team turned out to be the key criterion and emphasis of the event. That was really a privilege and honor.
To me, the most impressive element of the whole vent was the uniting faith that was displayed by the whole city, or even by the whole nation. Although there were still quite some skeptical critics, none of them made much difference. I often told people and myself that we live in a democratic society, and the opposing voice is one of the integral parts of the constituent. Like I’ve said on the Kaohsiung Happy Radio station, the main stadium is the representative of the WG, combining humanity, arts, and culture with competition. Consequently, the whole event reflects how Kaohsiung (or the south) has always been treated, nationally. People looked down at the city, though it has always been the better resemblance of our culture and one of the best places to enjoy life in. Few people cared about the event, despite the fact that it still garnered more than 5000 athletes from more than 100 countries. And when it is given the chance to shine? The energy is so powerful it can illuminate the night sky.
I have to admit, even for an optimist like me underestimated the class of Mayor “the Flower-mom” Chen, who not only touched the hearts of all Taiwanese but also elevated the level in all of us. To sum it up, it was that line on the jumbotron that moved me. “When the hearts of a city are united by a common goal, a silent force is born.” The glory of Kaohsiung, the pride of Taiwan. Line of the year, year of 2009, year of World Games in Kaohsiung.