“Good morning !” Sofia and Sara exclaim in unison when their radiant faces appear on the phone screen. Despite the early hour in Bogota – due to time difference – and the French being a little hesitant, their enthusiasm is beyond doubt. “We are so happy, it’s a dream that will come true,” exclaim these two Colombian sisters, 25 and 23 years old, who have embarked on a somewhat crazy adventure: being volunteers together at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. And their motivation paid off: they received a positive response on December 15 and will therefore fly to France this summer.

Young women’s interest in the Olympics is not new. “We have been watching the Olympics since we were little, we have always loved sport. We do judo, swimming, a little bit of everything,” says Sofia, who initiated the project. “Taking part in a global event is very exciting, we love helping others, it was a unique opportunity.” Both sisters have already volunteered, but this will be a first in the world of sport. Sofia and Sara, who attended a bilingual school in Bogota, do not worry about communicating with the event participants. If they are more comfortable in English than in French, between them they also speak Italian, German, Russian and Turkish… which leaves a lot of possibilities for guiding visitors. Because, the icing on the cake, they were lucky enough to have the same assignment, the transport team at Le Bourget. A still rather vague mission which will occupy them 6 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Before that, they will also be among the volunteers who will participate in the organization of the opening ceremony.

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This challenge is quite consistent with the professional choices of the two young women. In Bogota, Sofia, who has a degree in business management, is a manager in a hotel and has worked in events while Sara, fresh out of school, is a consultant for the French Development Agency. To carry out this project, we also had to deal with reality. If Sofia sacrifices her 15 days of annual paid leave, Sara, who ends her contract in July, will not receive any salary during her stay. The budget is therefore far from unlimited. And between plane tickets and accommodation, the bill for the 3-week trip to Paris in the middle of summer, at the heart of a global event, immediately looked particularly steep. “As soon as we applied we started putting money aside,” they explain.

Before even setting foot in France for the first time, they had to pay 1200 euros for the two plane tickets (despite having purchased them well in advance) and 1600 euros for 21 days in a three-room apartment in the 12th arrondissement that they found thanks to the mutual aid network between volunteers. “We needed an apartment that was at least comfortable, since our parents will be joining us the last week to finish this unforgettable trip as a family,” say the two sisters, who already know Paris. “Fortunately, as volunteers, we have free transport,” they smile. A welcome advantage, even if it is not to save money that they decided to be volunteers, rather than simple spectators. “It’s above all because it corresponds to our values. In the end, it will cost us dearly,” admit the two young women, who still hope to be able to “enjoy the atmosphere without spending too much…”. In the meantime, they are fine-tuning the details of their trip, with the full support of their family, “very proud” of the adventure that Sofia and Sara are about to experience. Just a few more weeks of patience!