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Olympic volunteers make history
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Against the backdrop of the approaching Beijing Olympic Games, volunteers have become one of the most visible signs of Olympic activity in Beijing and other co-host cities. They can be found wherever and whenever their help is needed. With their smiling faces and high-quality services, they are writing a new page in Chinese history.

Olympic volunteers show their "smile wristlets".

Right from the outset when the volunteer program was initiated, Chinese people embraced it enthusiastically.

Sun Fang, a student volunteer from China University of Political Science and Law witnessed the enthusiasm of her college mates. "Without anyone pushing us, every one of my class mates applied to take part as soon as the volunteer program was announced," the sophomore recalled.

According to statistics from the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), as of March 31, 2008, over 1.12 million people in Beijing had applied to serve as volunteers at Olympic events. The figure was reached less than two years after volunteer program was launched on August 28, 2006. The applicants are mainly young and educated, 97.87 percent are under 35 years old and 79.9 percent hold a bachelor degree or above.

People outside Beijing share the capital's passion to take an active part in the Games. As of today, other mainland provinces, municipalities and regions had received 292,000 applications for the Olympic volunteer program; Hong Kong has 7,000 volunteers; Macao has 2,000; and Taiwan has 3,000. In addition, 28,000 overseas Chinese and 22,000 foreigners have applied for the program.

Applicants who are lucky enough to be chosen have to attend tough training sessions. Take volunteers in Beijing for example. Sun Fang showed us her training schedule for the 2008 winter session. Lasting from 6:30 am to 9:30 pm, every minute on the timetable was allotted to activities, all of which seemed physically and mentally demanding.

According to a BOCOG official, the training that these volunteers have received can be put into four categories -- general issues, professional skills, venue specifics and post responsibilities. The organizing body has drawn up specific plans and instruction materials accordingly.

"The training had a very tight schedule and was very demanding. It made us realize the importance of teamwork and boosted our confidence." Zhang Jingjing said, recalling her impressions of the 2008 winter training session.

Two volunteers help an athlete at "Good Luck Beijing" 2008 International Marathon Race.

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