Monday, June 18, 2007

A Volunteer Army to Greet You

The city is recruiting 400,000 volunteers to help you get around the city during the Olympics and Paralympic Games next year. This doesn't include the already 100,000 people who will be helping out directly with the Olympics.

Officials made the announcement today in a press conference presented by the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee (BOCOG).

A video was shown to the media to illustrate the possible scenarios these volunteers would be of service, from giving directions to administering first aid or helping visitors with their bags. Some foreign media were amused by the stiff acting.

One reporter asked, if there are half a million visitors expected next year, does Beijing really need 400,000 city volunteers. Liu Jian, the office director of the BOCOG Volunteer Work Coordinating Group replied saying: "Chinese people are friendly and we will present our gracious hospitality, so we need more preparation work and more people for that."

While more is great, will each of these volunteers be proficient enough in English or other languages to be able to help foreigners who don't know a word of Chinese?

Right now as someone who knows some Putonghua, I still have problems getting around or asking for what I need.

So if you plan to come to Beijing next year, brush up on your Chinese now. You have just over a year to learn.

Oh and to put things into perspective, the Sydney 2000 Games had 47,000 volunteers, and the 2004 Athens Games had 60,000.


Anonymous said...

where will they put the volunteers? feed them? find them? if there's a free plane ticket to beijing, i'll volunteer!

jj said...

ps more pictures. love em.

Kai Sun said...

china has a lot of man power. it is good to mobilize the masses towards a certain goal. the olympics is a good one. it is also a good motivation for them to learn english which now is a world language. 500,000 may be a little overkill. also about mandarin, i saw a news clip some time ago on cnn that in the usa there is a tremendous upsurge of introducing mandarin in primary schools . this is a good thing. the world needs a dialogue to promote understanding. understanding each other starts with knowing the language.