Fiji won its first gold at the Olympics, and the entire country celebrated.

No one went to work or school on Aug. 11, 2016, in Fiji. Instead, the entire country was glued to the TV.

Thousands of people packed into the ANZ National Stadium in Suva. At Swami Vivekanand College in Nadi, all 700 students were called down to an assembly. Every restaurant, bar, resort, and home in the country was at max capacity with eager-eyed Fijians holding their breaths.

Photo by Feroz Khalil/AFP/Getty Images.


The event? Fiji vs. Great Britain in the rugby sevens final at the Rio Olympics. At stake? Fiji's first ever gold medal in Fiji's most celebrated sport.

When the final whistle sounded, the score was 43-7 in favor of Fiji.

Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images.

Team captain Osea Kolinisau sank to his knees, overcome with emotion at what he and his team had achieved.

The 900,000 people back home in Fiji erupted into unanimous, Earth-shattering celebration.

Photo by Feroz/Khalil/AFP/Getty Images.

It was pure, unadulterated, unstoppable joy.  

Photo by Feroz Khalil/AFP/Getty Images.

The medal is fitting, as Fiji has been dominating rugby on the world stage for a long time despite many obstacles.

The island nation has a smaller budget than other rugby teams and limited training facilities. It also experiences cyclones, which are dangerous tropical weather systems similar to hurricanes that can cause incredible amounts of damage.

The aftermath of Cyclone Winston in February 2016. Photo by Feroz Khalil for Mai Life Magazine via Getty Images.

In February 2016, a category 5 cyclone ripped through Fiji, killing over 40 people and leaving thousands homeless, including two of their rugby players. Despite that, the team remained dedicated and trained the very next day.

"Rugby is like a religion in Fiji," Elenoa Baselaia of the Fiji Times told CNN. "Whether it's with paper scrunched together to make a ball, it's with bottles or a real rugby ball, somebody in the neighborhoods is playing rugby."

Photo by John MacDougal/AFP/Getty Images.

On Aug. 11, Fijians celebrated in stadiums, erupted into cheers at bars and in their homes, and eventually took to the streets, waving Fijian flags and jumping for joy.

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was among those celebrating, and he even declared the day a public holiday.

“We’ve got celebrations programmed for when [the team] returns. We are all proud to be Fijians right now,” said Bainimarama.

Even if you don't know much about Fiji (or rugby), it's moments like these that remind me why we celebrate the Olympics.

Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

Fiji has had a rough year, but they've earned their moment in the spotlight.

Photo by Josh Johnson on Unsplash

Americans are a diverse bunch, but as a culture, we can skew towards an overconfidence-bordering-on-outright-arrogance that's less than likable on the world stage. We also have that whole "ugly American tourist" stereotype to contend with, not to mention our wonky politics as of late, so it can feel like we're viewed with disdain or pity more than admiration by our fellow humans on planet Earth.

However, when Reddit user u/Rebuildingz asked this question: "Non-Americans of Reddit, what do you admire about Americans?" the answers were kind and lovely enough to make us feel proud of our unique contribution to our global tapestry.

Here are some of the more than 7,000 comments, many of which are more about the U.S. itself than the American people, but still nice to see:

"How the national identity is so culturally mixed. it seems like If you move to France, you don't become a French; you just become a foreigner. While everyone who lives in America at all is American."lTheReader·

"The hospitality. Americans get a bad rap for being xenophobic, which I think is unfair and just based on the bad incidents we've seen in recent years. I go to the USA pretty often (I'm Irish/British), and everyone I meet is always so welcoming and friendly. Well, not EVERYONE, everywhere has bad people, but it just seems like Americans generally are a lot more open and hospitable to strangers than I'm used to at home. Like, they'll just strike up a casual conversation with you just while you're standing at a street crossing or whatever. I remember one afternoon I went into a bar in Austin for a beer, and the guy next to me just sits down and says "Yep. So I just drove a truck down from New York. Helluva trip." and we chatted for like an hour about his road trip hauling wood (or something, I can't remember lol). That doesn't happen where I'm from; just shooting the breeze with a stranger."

kutuup1989·

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