Todos Somos Um- “We are All One.”

  Todos Somos Um. We are all one.  The famous Brazilian graffiti artist Kobra choose this mantra as the title for the masterpiece he created for the games.  His brilliant and gigantic mural depicts 6 different people groups in a stunning display of culture, color and beauty.   It portrays the unity, peace and feelings of community that perfectly sums up my feelings for my time at the Olympics.   We are all one. I have never felt that more than this week, here at the Olympic games.

You can’t understand this strange Olympic community until you experience it for yourself.    We have all watched the Olympics on TV.    We have all witnessed the athletes compete and heard their stories.  Every four years we all cheer on the American Team and yearn for Gold with lustful anticipation. The media describes and perhaps ignites feuds between athletes and countries and at home everyone focuses on the competition and rivalries.

But when you are here at the Olympics in person the rivalries seem to melt away.  It feels completely different.  What you don’t see through the TV is the community of spectators, athletes, volunteers, families of athletes, and media personnel who have all united under shared passions.  From home it is impossible to understand he bond and friendships being built in the little Utopian Bubble that is the Olympic Games. 

This past week I got to live my dream.  I got to attend several Olympic events including the Opening Ceremony.   I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see Kerri Walsh-Jennings absolutely dominate the Beach Volleyball court in person. I was also never so proud to be a Boilermaker than when watching Steele Johnson and David Bodia dive for Silver and give God all of the glory. It was also thrilling to watch US men’s basketball and Gymnastics.   I found it fascinating and enthralling to be there live with an energetic audience.

However, the events themselves, while thrilling and fun, were not my favorite part of being here at the Olympics.

What I loved most about being here during the Olympics was the COMMUNITY. The Olympic community is smaller than I ever imagined. Most events are all spaced out together in the Olympic park and it is fascinating to see people go around the massive park bustling off to their various events from water polo or  tennis to  handball or diving.

I kept running into the same people. I met these people on the bus going to the Olympic park, on the street, at the Boulevard or in line for different events.  It is thrilling and exciting to see people you recognize again and again.  It is fun to check in with each other to find out what they have seen and where they are going to next.  We shared stories of the games and gave each other advice.  Here in the Olympic Park, Rio suddenly felt small and familiar.

I saw athletes on their way to their events, duffle bags in hand and concentration on their face.  I met the families of the athletes with their nervous smiles and hopeful energy.   I created a group of friends from around the world and we all started sharing a common purpose.  We found ourselves suddenly rooting for each other’s teams, not just our own.

 The Host city’s intoxicating excitement compels everyone to root for every Brazilian competitor along with Rio’s  vibrant crowd.  I met many family members of athletes while roaming the Olympic Park and I found myself cheering, not just for the Americans or even the Brazilians, but also for the daughter of the Chinese woman I met in line of the diving event.   And I cheered for the son of the guy from Mexico and for the friends of that sweet couple from Argentina.  While at the Olympics in Rio, I started rooting for the world- not just America.


 When  I walked around the Olympic village I couldn’t help but feel a sense of camaraderie and joy. There are several tables set up in the Olympic Park and I saw  different groups mixing together sharing meals and hopping table to table to swap pins and collectible cups.   One evening I even joined a Danish Family in their game of 500 Rummy at one of these tables.

Here in this strange and magical Olympic bubble, smiles and kindness break language barriers and patience and understanding seem to be the normal mode of operation.  This utopia of peaceful cohabitation is why it is essential to visit the games in person.   It was here that my heart felt completely at peace and full of joy.  During all of the fun and love and celebration I started to fully understand Todos Somos Um. “We are all one”.  



7 thoughts on “Todos Somos Um- “We are All One.”

  1. Wow Kelly! Thanks so much for sharing. When I heard you got to live out your Olympic dream I was excited to see through what lens you would be sharing your journey. So awesome to hear a non-media perspective as these games have been quite controversial – the fact that you found and experienced Olympic spirit in all of this is TERRIFIC.

    Let your light keep shinning!


  2. You have given us a look from the inside and your feelings about all being one is what it should be. You are to be applauded for your sense of adventure and love for life. Keep strong and be safe.


  3. Excellent post, Kelly! Love all the pics, too! So happy for you that you got to live out your life-long dream of attending the Olympics. It is amazing, if not miraculous, how people from such drastically different world views can set aside their competing ideologies and come together under a common bond.

    I thought you might want to know that the correct spelling is “root,” not >> route. From >> root: verb (used without object) >> encourage a team or contestant by cheering or applauding >> enthusiastically. >> Synonyms: cheer , cheer on >> , shout for >> , applaud >> , clap >> , boost >> , support >> . >> 2. to lend moral support: >> The whole group will be rooting for him. >> Synonyms: back , second >> ; champion >> , advocate >> , favor >> , espouse >> >> > You are a gifted writer! Love reading your thoughts!

    On Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 4:32 PM, Filling My Map wrote:

    > kellyj1111 posted: ” Todos Somos Um. We are all one. The famous > Brazilian graffiti artist Kobra choose this mantra as the title for the > masterpiece he created for the games. His brilliant and gigantic mural > depicts 6 different people groups in a stunning display of cultur” >


  4. Hi Kelly,
    I really enjoy your blog! I started reading when I was doing some research on the Fulbright program (a dream of mine) and have kept reading because I love to see your adventures. I’m also a teacher who loves to travel. I’m actually working on a teacher travel fellowship proposal currently and I was hoping there might be a way to reach you to ask some general questions about the Finnish education system’s approach to special education. If that would be something you are up for…how can we be in touch?


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