Editorials & Opinion

Mission Impossible: Escaping Eurovision Fever – Experiences of an ESC Volunteer

Conchita Wurst. I doubt there is any person currently living in Austria who is not in some form familiar with this name, even those trying to avoid the Eurovision hype on purpose. I was not one of them, knowing that escaping Eurovision in Vienna was impossible as well as appreciating Conchita’s achievement. However, I have to admit I would have never called myself a “fan” of anything related with the ESC. Sure, I knew the basic stuff, the most important victories, songs, performances. And based on my writing experience in the music field, I could not help but get involved with it somehow. But again, I never considered myself a fan. Well, that changed in May 2015.
Decision taking process
Regarding my wish of becoming a journalist in the future and working hard to fulfill that lifetime-dream, I was interested in the jobs the volunteer group in Vienna had to offer. I knew, there were indeed possibilities to be part of the press team. That was one of the main reasons I applied. Getting in touch with other journalists, discovering new things about press work. The other one was curiosity. I was aware of the fact that it would be an experience of a lifetime, being part of an event as big as the ESC in a city I have been living in for two years now. And of course the aforementioned interest in music in general. All of the above led to my decision of applying as a volunteer. After two castings, including an English test as well as interviews with the organisers, I was happy to receive a mail telling me I could be part of the ORF Online Social Media group. I knew it would mean a lot of work and commitment apart from my studies and other jobs, but I have never been more sure of something than this: I wanted to be part of Eurovision 2015 in Vienna.

(We have realised that this video may be blocked in some countries, but if you’d like to watch it – and you should, it’s adorable – then just click here)
A new-found family
Were I to mention everything that happened in those two weeks in May, I could possibly write a book of at least one hundred pages. For short: It was one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I am not exaggerating. From day one, the volunteers managed to become a family, which is not an easy task, considering there were 800 of us. Thanks to a great organisation team we could take the best out of the two weeks. It all started with our own personal welcome ceremony and party, everything was organised perfectly and smooth, they made sure we enjoyed the ESC as much as possible and I think we cannot thank them enough for that. I had the chance to write and edit articles, take photos, and do interviews for the ORF Online site. I got in touch with journalists, got a lot of great input I could definitly use in the future and left the ESC with many new contacts. But not only that, maybe the most important thing I am leaving with is new-found friends. We got as close as one could get in a short amount of time, shared thoughts, feelings, had dinner together, went out in the evenings, just enjoyed doing what we loved. Those were all experiences I hoped would happen, but was not sure of. However, there was one thing, I would never have thought: I became a huge ESC-Fan.
With a little help from my friends…
“Yvonne, do you know this song?”
“Sure, that’s Playing with numbers. Ireland.”
What happened to me? I actually started learning everything about the entries, the singers, the years before. I read books about Eurovision history, listened to old songs and never missed a chance to talk to people who knew basically everything about the ESC. I really started getting into the whole thing, although I never would have believed that before. Two of my best friends I met there are huge fans and also took the chance to teach me some important stuff. Finally, I ended Eurovision as a different person. I even started telling myself what I had been missing all the years before.
It is now clear for me that I want to combine my love for music and my press experience with the Eurovision Song Contest and contribute as much as possible in that field. For short: I definitely had chosen a life-changing activity for mid-May. And to end with a saying of the person I got to admire most: I am know – hopefully – unstoppable.

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