Thursday 13th March 2008

Eric Kang: IMO 2004 Greece Report

This year’s NZIMO team was unusual for a couple of reasons: One, that the IMO was a first for every member of the team, and two, we had a film crew of three people constantly filming us the whole trip. This may suggest to some people for the team chemistry to have been rather ‘interesting’, but in fact we got along very well, and quite honestly, spending time with the team, the team mother Katrina, the three film crews Eugene, Peter and Kirsty, and the team leaders Arkadii and Simon was by far the best part of the trip.

The trip to Greece was of course very exciting. The six days spent on Paros was really quite fantastic, with a nice beach just being about one minute walk away. We worked quite intensively in the morning, from which we all learnt much thanks to Simon, and went sightseeing in the afternoon. We indulged ourselves to enjoy the beautiful food of Greece thankfully made by Katrina during the day, and tried to mix with the Greek dining culture, watching the Euro 2004 final match with them in one of the evenings. We tried to blend into the scenic landscape of the island, which is a difficult task for a group of tourists with a camera and a boom stick pointed towards them, and even tried bargaining with the experienced sales people of Greece, which the guys including myself failed miserably and girls succeeded with their charm.

Doco filming on Paros

Doco filming on Paros

For the main event in Athens, we stayed in President Hotel, which was very nice except for the horrible food and the night when the swimming pool on the roof somehow leaked right down, which I must say I found pretty funny. Our team guide Demy was very kind and organised our schedule during the week very well. The Olympiad exam itself was somewhat a daunting experience, expectably, but nevertheless a very unique and incomparable feeling was present, participating in such a prestigious international event. Jethro and Heather, to their wholly deserved credit, performed very well and won two bronze medals for New Zealand.

After the exam, while Arkadii and Simon were fighting hard, and from what I hear, quite humorously to earn us points for some of the nonsense we wrote down, the NZ team met with the British, the Irish, and the Australian teams, and we got to see many famous sights, naturally the Acropolis being one of them. It really was a terrific experience to see the places I have read about many times, and even more special was the sentiment of seeing some of the places while watching the Olympic Games back here in New Zealand.

At the Acropolis

At the Acropolis

So, overall, it wasn’t just any one of those unusual, unique experiences; it was an extraordinary experience in every sense of the word. I guess I regret not having performed a little better, but hopefully I get another chance next year to try harder. Nonetheless, I already do miss all the people, and I also believe I have learnt a lot about being humble and modest but also having hope and aiming high. Before I end, I would like to thank the NZMOC, Mr Alan Parris, Mr Bob Long, Mr Brian Wood, the sponsors, and all the people who I have already mentioned in the report for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the team, and also my school teachers for helping me along the way. The experience really widened my view in many ways, and I shall cherish it for a very long time.