Volunteers to polish image of 2008 Beijing

Updated: 2007-08-12 08:49

Hou Liling, a volunteer for the Beijing Olympic Games test events, has kept standing for eight hours amid Beijing's 33-degree summer heat waves before arriving home at midnight.

"My life will be like this through the whole August," said the 19-year-old girl, "but I feel  happy."

"It's very significant. I feel good when I can be helpful, especially in such an important tournament ahead of the 2008  Beijing Olympics," said Hou, a third-year student from the Beijing Institute of Science and Technology.

Hou gave up her carefree summer vacation to be a volunteer for "Good Luck Beijing" 2007 International Hockey Tournament. She admitted that she was even not aware that there was a sport called hockey when she applied for Olympic volunteer, but after weeks of training, she knew not only what a penalty corner was but also how to provide better service for audience in  the hockey pitch.

Pointing at the yellow smile badge on her orange uniform, Hou Liling proudly announced that she was newly named "smiling  ambassador" for the hockey tournament, which "make all the sweat worthwhile", she said.

"Even Jacques Rogge thumbs up at my service when he opened the four-nation hockey tournament," said Hou.

She is not alone. Nearly 700 volunteers with an average age of 20 from four universities in Beijing were stationed in the Olympic Green Hockey Field to assure athletes feel at home, to facilitate reporters and to bring best service to audience.

A total of 560,000 people have applied to be one of 100,000 volunteers required for the Olympics and Paralympics. About 70,000 of them are expected to work at venues with 30,000 more working at Paraylympic venues. The remaining volunteers will staff urban area outside the Olympic venues-like bus stations, first-aid centers and subway stations.

"'Good Luck Beijing' sports event is not only a rehearsal for athletes and organisers, but also for volunteers," said Wu Jun, personnel manager for the hockey tournament. "The pressure to deliver professional service in such an international event can be intense for these young people."

"I have to be highly alert every second through the match," said a college sophomore surnamed Zhao, caddie for the men's  hockey, adding that he was yelled by a player for throwing the ball "a little bit late."

As for Li Mengyuan, interpreter for the hockey tournament, volunteering for the Olympics was not merely about passion but also professionalism.

Her notebook was filled with English terms for hockey, which "I have prepared for weeks and recited them again and again," said Li, a postgraduate student from Beijing Foreign Studies University.

"I hope foreign guests will be impressed by our professional service," she said, who interpreted four press conferences every day till 10 p.m. during the six-day tournament.

Xie Bing, a university freshman who needs to dress in heavy costume of Olympic mascots for ten times each day to entertain audience in the pitch, admitted all he received at the end of the day was four bottles of water and a free meal.

"It is being part of the Olympics that really counts," he said. "I feel proud of myself and I hope the rest of the world  will take pride in my country when it hosts a unique Olympics."

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