As I was sitting up in the stands during Opening Ceremonies, I noticed three little words on the plastic American flag I was waving: “Made in China.”
While it would probably be going too far to question whether we were outsourcing our patriotism, it was still one of those ironic moments worth capturing.
For me, the Paralympics are not just about national pride. They’re about international connections: rallying Chinese fans to cheer “Jia You, Mei Guo Dui!” (Let’s Go USA!) at the U.S. vs. Oz wheelchair rugby gold medal match; becoming friends with Beijing Morning Post reporter Stella Li (she’s in the USA jersey and my teeshirt says Beijing);
outside the Birds Nest, offering to take a picture of a family who, though they didn’t speak English, were able to express appreciation with smiles.
More than 4000 athletes from 148 countries competed at the 2008 Summer Paralympics… I think that example of peaceful competition and mutual respect is something we can all use more of.