BRI NEWS Volunteer work a window to the world


Volunteer work a window to the world

By Liu Xuan | China Daily

09:07, February 15, 2022

This was Liu Yao's first year not to return home for Spring Festival. Instead, the junior student stayed on duty at the National Cross-country Skiing Centre in Zhangjiakou, one of the competition sites of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Wearing a blue and white down coat, and, of course, a mask, Liu serves as a transport services assistant with two other volunteers. They are mainly responsible for vehicle scheduling and providing traffic information for the Olympic family.

In between her shifts, Liu joins sophomore Hu Mengmeng at a shuttle-bus stop, helping journalists with directions, most commonly those looking to find the ZBC(Zhangjiakou Broadcast Center).

Both are students from Hebei GEO University, two of the thousands of volunteers at Beijing 2022, often unsung heroes who help keep the Olympics operating smoothly.

It is cold in Zhangjiakou, especially after sunset, so wrapping up is essential if the volunteers are on duty outside.

"We are equipped with lots of hot packs and change shifts every 45 minutes. If it's too cold, we shorten the intervals to 30 or 20 minutes," Hu said. "There is also a lounge for us to rest with hot drinks and snacks."

Their working hours depend on the competition times. If there are no races on the schedule, Liu and her colleagues can rest in the lounge, browsing the internet or chatting with friends.

"If there is an event, for example when I'm at the traffic information desk, I will be on duty a couple of hours before the race to three hours after," Liu explained. "Inside, and with chairs."

The students have been stationed in the center since late January, when they received training and familiarized themselves with the different traffic routes and the abbreviations for venue names.

When Liu began dealing with the first Olympic arrivals, she said she was afraid she might give them the wrong directions because she was not totally familiar with the site, and felt a little nervous to speak English with foreigners.

"Although I major in English, I really don't have that many chances to actually talk to foreigners," she said with a shy smile. "But being a volunteer here has given me the opportunity to communicate with those foreign friends and level up my English skills."

Having been busy chatting to people from all over the globe, Liu now realizes she has much to improve on as regard her language skills, and this has motivated her to work harder in the future.

The foreign journalists, Liu said, are "very friendly"."They will say 'hello' to me when they get off the bus, and say 'thank you' after hearing my guidance. Some even greet me in Chinese, like 'ni hao' (hello)."

Participating in Beijing 2022 has also given the youngster a sense of responsibility as a host, something she hasn't experienced before.

"The Games are a major event, and being a volunteer makes me feel so proud of myself when I can make contributions to the country and society," Liu said.

She feels that her volunteer work has also broadened her horizons, providing her with a platform to connect with people from around the world.

"I feel that people are very friendly, and that everyone gathers in Beijing because of love for sports," Liu said. "All of this gives me the impression that this is a pure sporting gathering."

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