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(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-12 08:10

Successful Olympics, one foot at a time

Last Saturday, I was riding my bike along Yong'anli in an attempt to make it to Tian'anmen square on such an absolutely gorgeous day.

Unfortunately I had my foot hurt. Within a moment my foot became terribly bloody. I sat on the curb wondering why I had not taken better care of my foot. Suddenly, from behind me came a warm "Hello, can I help you?" in just about as native-sounding English as I heard back home around Washington DC.

As I looked up, I saw several blue and white polo shirts reading "volunteer." Looking beyond the shirts, I noticed a nearby blue tent with the word "volunteer," which surprised me as we were miles away from any Olympic-related venue.

"No, that's OK." I replied, assuming the volunteers were only armed with decent English skills and maps of the city. The volunteers disappeared and I returned to thinking about how I would or would not get back home.

Within a few seconds, I was surprisingly surrounded by a group of no fewer than three volunteers with a large, and as I would find, very well-equipped first aid kit.

The volunteers went to work on my foot and weren't at all squeamish about it, which surprised me because I normally wouldn't label feet the most inviting-looking things in the world, wound or no wound.

Holding cotton balls in tweezers, the volunteers collectively applied two types of disinfectants. One of the volunteers bandaged my foot, and acknowledged in Chinese to the others that it didn't look so pretty, we all had a laugh also acknowledging that it looked much better now. I thanked them a lot.

Cute story, I know. But it speaks volumes. As an instructor of undergraduate classes about civil society back in the US, I lectured about the benefits of civility; unfortunately, I saw it practiced less often than I would have liked.

My experience on Saturday reminded me of the potential of ordinary people: American, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, whoever we are -, same color skin or not, same native tongue or not, same culture or not - to help each other and make each other's lives a little happier.

I then wondered what the world would be like if there were volunteer stations, like the ones currently in Beijing, in every one of the world's cities year round.

This isn't unusual thinking on a more global scale: after all, some critics have said China "cannot operate in the true spirit of the Olympics". In fact, however, China continues everyday - in events beyond my encounter on Saturday - to set examples for global unity and harmony, one foot at a time.

Dan Prud'homme, an American living and working in Beijing

via e-mail

Chinese basketball not perfect yet

As to the performance of the Chinese men's basketball team in the China-US competition on Sunday night, I think the Chinese team could have performed much better if they had worked as a team.

They showed a lack of teamwork and their ways of passing the ball had too many mistakes. They needed speed and flexibility.


on China Daily website

Bicycling best

Asked what kind of transport to use during the Beijing Olympic Games, I choose bicycle as my favorite.

There are two reasons. First, riding a bicycle gives a chance for physical exercise every day, for improving your muscle and health and saving money for bus & subway tickets. "Kill two birds with one stone."

Second, riding a bicycle can improve air quality, reduce the gases that the buses emit every day. We can do so to create a healthier environment for our next generation.


on China Daily website

Control air pollution

Good wishes for all athletes from every country to compete well. Please keep controlling air pollution or else precious Chinese traditional culture will be ruined.

The US also has cities with smog, bad air and water, but those cities with serious problems are heavily fined.

I was delighted when I saw a picture of Beijing the other day with a blue sky overhead. Good work. I would not want any athlete to have to wear a mask.


on China Daily website

Wonderful country

Dear all Chinese people, be proud of your Games! I hope that you will be open to learn from what visitors from all over the world think about China and sports. I hope these Games will further open the doors between the West and the East. We need to learn more about each other and to show tolerance and respect to each other.

I visited China back in 1997, and China has changed a lot since my last visit. You have a country of beauty and colors.

I hope that the air pollution and industrial interests will not destroy all these, because it is the ancient China and the country's nature and history that attract all visitors the most, instead of all the modern buildings and infrastructure.

Rune Sagen

on China Daily website

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(China Daily 08/12/2008 page11)