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Author: Zhang Chunxia
Publisher: New World Press (2008)
Price: 19.80 yuan
2008, an unforgettable year for the Chinese people, will also go down in history as an important year in the development of China's voluntary services sector. The Beijing Olympic Games and the Wenchuan earthquake unleashed dynamic campaigns of voluntary services by the Chinese people, and accelerated the promotion of a volunteer ethos and the popularization of a volunteer culture.
From the disaster-relief areas of the Sichuan Wenchuan earthquake to the service sites of the Beijing Olympic Games, the number of Chinese volunteers grew exponentially at an unprecedented rate. According to estimates, about five million volunteers played an active role in the Wenchuan quake-hit areas as well as in disaster-relief work in other areas of China. Their inspired feats demonstrated the vibrant development of civic pride. During the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games, hundreds of thousands of onsite volunteers, 400,000 engaged in the City Volunteer Project and a million social volunteers, all provided a complete range of services to people. During the Beijing Olympic Games especially, the smiles of Chinese volunteers touched the whole world, and won the hearts of people internationally.
For several years and for various reasons, many voluntary services had failed to reach their expected goals, with many nongovernmental volunteer organizations (NGOs) finding themselves on the margins of mainstream culture. However, after the Wenchuan earthquake and during the Beijing Olympic Games, massive armies of Chinese volunteers came together in an unprecedented manner, bringing a steady flow of newcomers in their wake. The status of voluntarism has also changed from playing a minor role in contemporary life into becoming an important part of the society. What is more important, the whole society has begun to express its understanding, respect and esteem for volunteers, with more and more ordinary people actively enlisting as volunteers, and the volunteer spirit returning to its original meaning of spontaneity, autonomy, and voluntary participation. Consequently, 2008 has become the first year in this new era of voluntarism in China. This is the first collective appearance of volunteers in an important demonstration of China's current efforts to build its civil society.
(China.org.cn December 4, 2008)