Celebrating the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games - Diversity, Hospitality, Grit!

July 21, 2015 | Iana

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The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games started on July 10 with a spectacular ceremony! You can watch the CN Tower fireworks as part of the opening! Ten days later the medals count is growing while athletes from 41 participating countries compete - in the third largest international multi-sport games in the world!

Pan Am Pachi

On Wednesday I took my young daughter to the gymnastics finals at the Exhibition Place. We had an amazing experience cheering for the athletes, living through their emotional ups and downs, successes and mistakes. Canada won four medals at that event and we stood up for the national anthem - our first time singing it at a big sports event since we became Canadian citizens and it felt very moving. Outside - the CIBC Pan Am Park was buzzing with people and activities - the national flags of all participating countries turning the skies into a celebration of colours, kids taking pictures with the cheerful Pachi, excellent cultural events happening at the big Panamania stage.


For me - the Games represent several important values, which in fact I also see as values that are dear to Canadians so many of whom, including myself, have immigrated in recent times and have embraced these values and live through them daily: Volunteerism and Hospitality; Sportsmanship, Grit and Perseverance; Multiculturalism and Heritage.

Artistic Gymnastics Finals and beautiful national flags of many of the Pan Am countries.  Pan Am flags gymnastics

Volunteerism and Hospitality

I was so impressed with the thousands of tireless volunteers assisting at the Games. I see them everywhere. At the subway stations, at the cultural sites, and around any of the sports events. I had a chat with one lovely older man who was from Britain and had arrived to volunteer at the Pan Am Games. He had already been a volunteer at the London 2012 Summer Olympics. He said that he loves this kind of memorable experience, being part of such a unique and big event, feeling connected.  

According to Statistics Canada, over 13.3 million people or 47% of Canadians aged 15 and over had done volunteer work in 2010. A large percentage of those volunteers devote their efforts to volunteer work for sports and recreation organizations for non-profit organizations providing social services.

Many newcomers and recent immigrants in Toronto look for volunteer opportunities in order to gain Canadian experience as well as feel included and to make a difference or give back to the community.

Visit your local library and ask staff for suggested volunteer opportunities. Toronto Public Library also offers several Volunteer Programs for adults and teens. 

I felt very proud as a resident of Toronto - the host city of the Pan Am Games and think that the city of Toronto is doing an exemplary job in hosting the games and welcoming all the visitors and athletes.

If you are not able to attend one of the many Pan Am sports events, do join the multiple cultural events of Panamania and come to the library to watch the games on a big screen at those library branches - Malvern, York Woods, Thorncliffe, Jane/Sheppard.

There are many more free events happening during the Games, check the PANAMANIA website for more events information. And you can still join us this week and in August at some of the Toronto Public Library branches for free programs celebrating the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

The Panamania stage at the CIBC PanAm Park, the Exhibition Place. Panamania stage

Sportsmanship, Grit and Perseverance

The spirit of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games and any big sports events is rooted in the athletes' strength of character and the tireless will to perform better and overcome challenges. Even more inspiring and moving is the grace with which athletes learn to also lose a game, how they treat each other and celebrate the success of others.

This same spirit of grit and perseverance has deep roots in Canada, in generations who have endured many hardships for a better future and life.

Multiculturalism and Heritage

The Games are beautiful and multicultural. While watching the gymnastics event, I felt how every athlete had the special support of Canadians and visitors from each and every Pan Am country!

The official languages of the 2015 Pan American games are Spanish, English and French. Spanish is the official language of about half of all participating countries, while English and French are the two official languages of Canada.

And even more - did you know that Toronto Public Library offers free materials to borrow in more than 60 languages?

Check out these books selected by library staff that explore the themes, people and cultures of the TORONTO 2015 Games - Pan Am/Para Pan Am Reading.

Pan Am flags in front of the Coliseum, one of the competition venues. Pan Am games flags

All in all - I felt very proud supporting the Games even in a small personal way. I hope you enjoy the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games too this summer! And share with us your favourite moments!

For a taste of the countries, cultures, languages and the sports that are represented in the Games - visit Toronto Public Library and enrich your experience - learn, read, watch and play!