When your best friend goes to Russia

We both went to the callout meeting for 2014 BSU at the Games hopefuls.

She was a bit more gun-ho about the whole idea, and I was quite pessimistic about my chances of being even slightly involved. At a school known for its outstanding journalism students, it’s no secret that the student reporters on their way to Sochi right now are the best of the best.


Sochi overlook, with the big Olympic stadium to the left. Photo credit: Colleen Steffen


So when she finally got the official word she would be joining the writing team, I was obviously very proud of her and all she would accomplish. But another part of my mind was worried. Not because this isn’t a well organized program or because she isn’t competent enough to travel abroad, but because in today’s world, high-profile events always face the same question.

Is this safe?

It didn’t help when people we knew would reference sex trafficking or terrorist attacks. When she mentioned the team was taught ways to not look American, I was concerned. When a friend of mine mentioned his perfectly honest feelings about the possibility of violence, I almost had a panic attack.

But I’m fully aware that part of the job description of a journalist includes these kinds of situations. So I tried not to let these things bother me. I did my part: encouraging words, hugs as needed. I didn’t even cry when we said goodbye, which is a big deal for someone as emotional as me.

But I also sent a text to family members requesting prayers and positive thoughts for the team and made people tell me that everything was going to be fine. I read news headlines stating that this would be the most secure Olympic Games to date, which helped.

Then suddenly, after an impending snowstorm forced the team to head out a full day early, those feelings vanished. I’m no longer worried about the safety of these students. I’m simply excited for all the possibilities that await them when they land in Sochi. They will be having the experience of a lifetime, and I’m already so proud of all of them.


BSU at the Games is a freelance news agency operated by 22 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games through an immersive-learning program at Ball State University.



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