China is a country of superlatives: the most populous nation in the world; the biggest, most expensive Olympics ever; a record number of Olympic volunteers, one and a half million of them, to be exact. Amid this volunteer army are 935 foreign volunteers, who are very serious about making sure visitors to the Olympics have a good time. Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing on the training classes and one of the group's leaders.
He calls himself Chairman George. But when he is amongst citizens of the world, he identifies himself as Canadian George, in honor of his home country. He is helping encourage other foreigners in China to be good Olympic volunteers.
"I've given them some motivation, and some excitement and some passion, because I think passion and enthusiasm of all of us being together internationally is what makes for a better world," he said.
Chairman George stands out among the foreign volunteers, who will help make Olympic visitors feel more comfortable.
Most of the students are diligent and show real skill when it comes to singing happy songs. Others appear to be a little confused or not that interested.
An instructor urges the volunteers to smile warmly and clap with discipline. One volunteer even shows off the official cheer.
Speaking Chinese well is not a requirement. Some volunteers say they believe they were chosen because they have a nice smile. And the training is not all fun and games.
"We also have first aid classes, which is going to be great because it's going to be so hot during the Olympic games,” a French volunteer said. “So, we're going to have to handle a lot of things, a lot of disease, and the spectators, so this is very useful."
Chairman George is both a
leader and a follower. He also performs a rousing rendition of a song he wrote
in Chinese and English, appropriately named the "Olympic Volunteer