> Beijing 2008
Young volunteer journalists settle in to Chinese life
By Bryna Sim (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-07-04 07:39

A pillow, a first-aid kit and a pile of American snacks made up a good part of Kayla Bowcutt's 27 kg of luggage.

Although this made her bags 4 kg overweight, she could not bear to part with these "essential" items.

"I was afraid of getting a craving for American food and not being able to get it here," the 20-year-old photojournalism student said.

Bowcutt is not the only one worried about missing food from home.

A number of other students also brought along granola bars, candy and dried fruit, in addition to other home comforts such as family pictures and soft toys.

The students are part of the US Missouri School of Journalism's delegation for the Beijing Olympics, made up of 59 students and two professors who will call Renmin University of China (RUC) home for the next two months.

They are the second group of overseas volunteers for Olympic media operations and follow the first arrivals from the University of Iowa last month.

Although it has been only a day since they arrived, the students are eager to get started.

"Ever since I knew in December, I was coming, I have been counting down to this day," Bowcutt said.

Most of the students have attended two preparatory meetings a week over the past four months, including talks by US journalists who have covered previous Olympics, as well as lectures on Chinese culture.

Besides attending an orientation program that includes Olympic volunteer outfit tryouts and learning how to bank money, the budding reporters will hear lectures on Chinese culture from professors at their host RUC, and also tour media outlets such as People's Daily Online and Beijing Youth Daily.

These activities should prepare them for their responsibilities, which include collecting flash quotes and writing press conference highlights during the Games.

Some of the students are apprehensive about communicating with Chinese people.

The communication barrier has already led to problems.

When the students went for dinner, they had problems reading the menu, as it was in Chinese.

Thankfully, Lynette Yau, a broadcast journalism major from Hong Kong, was there to translate.

"I translated about 10 types of fried rice," she said.

(China Daily 07/04/2008 page6)