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Diverse volunteer team all set for Games

China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-18 09:22
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Student volunteers from nine countries pose for a photo at the Wukesong Sports Center in Beijing. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/]

On the night of Beijing's first snowfall this winter, Taechinee Prasnakorn shared a video clip on WeChat accompanied by the caption: "Look! How I enjoy the snow!"

The young Thai student did indeed enjoy herself-sticking her face in the snow to taste it and waving her arms and legs around as she lay on the carpeted ground.

This winter's first snowfall had a special meaning to Prasnakorn, who goes by the Chinese name Bai Na, chiefly because she is among 10 international students at University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB) who will work as volunteers at the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

"I hail from a seaside city in southern Thailand, where I can go diving but there is no snow," she said.

Bai Na is currently in the last year of her postgraduate degree at USTB. Though faced with the dual pressure of graduation and job hunting, she applied to be a volunteer for the Games last June, viewing the chance as a "must-do".

To be a Winter Olympics volunteer requires not only excellent language skills but also a certain knowledge of the Games. The selected volunteers have to take 25 online courses and pass exams on each course.

"It was so difficult that I had to repeatedly study some courses to pass the exams," Bai said, adding that she would discuss key points of the courses with her fellow volunteers, including Vietnamese classmate Nguyen Thu Phuong, whose nickname is Fang Fang.

Sharing the same passion for ice and snow as Bai, Fang Fang is a big fan of the 2008 Games' theme song Beijing Welcomes You.

"The theme song, as well as the 2008 Games, helped me get to know about and expand my interest of China, especially the country's traditional culture. That's why I chose to major in Chinese in Hanoi and came to pursue further studies in Beijing," Fang Fang said in fluent Chinese.

"I feel so proud and lucky for the opportunity to be a Winter Olympics volunteer.

"I've finished my graduation thesis ahead of time, and I don't have any travel plans in the winter vacation, so I have enough time and energy to serve the Winter Games wholeheartedly."

Nyein Htike Zaw, a student from Myanmar who is keen on sports, never expected that he would learn snowboarding in China and compete on behalf of his motherland.

In an international snowboarding competition held in Ulanqab, north China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, in 2019, the snowboard novice from a tropical country turned out to be something of a natural on the slopes.

Adopting the Chinese name Wang Zhiqiang, he is embracing the Olympic spirit with his upcoming volunteer duties. "A volunteer is someone who helps another in need, and I like to help others," he said when questioned on his reasons for signing up for the Games.

Wang hadn't studied Chinese before enrolling at USTB. However, he has improved rapidly after a year of intensive study and now attends classes that are conducted entirely in Chinese, and is planning to study for a PhD degree in China. "If you can speak Chinese, you will gain more opportunities in Myanmar," he said.

In late December, all the 10 foreign volunteers, together with 127 Chinese from the university, underwent training at Wukesong Sports Center - which will host women's ice hockey at the Games-for the first time.

With Beijing 2022 opening on Feb 4, the volunteers are all set to serve the world's top winter athletes at the sporting extravaganza.


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