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British Students' Dream: Be Volunteers for Special Olympics
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Seventy-two British students and 15 teachers from nine high schools are now having a "Studying Mandarin" sports summer camp in Shanghai, China, as a preparation for their voluntary work of Worldwide Special Olympics in 2007.


These British students are dreaming to be volunteers for Special Olympics in 2007, and the summer camp is their first step to know about China and sports.


During the summer camp, they study Mandarin, Chinese culture and even Chinese martial arts Kongfu.


"I am making effort to study Mandarin, in the hope of coming back to Shanghai again in 2007, and becoming an honored volunteer for Special Olympics." said Simon Grant Park, one of the campers.


On July 19, these campers had a friendly game of football with Shanghai Special Olympic Football Team in Shanghai Yangfan Special School. Special Olympic Football Team beat the campers 3-1.


"We lost the game, but we sincerely feel happy for our opponents. Although they have some mental handicaps, they are still excellent!" said Pavan Kataria, a boy from Newhaam School.


With curly hair and coffee-colored skin, Pavan is a hybrid of Indian and British. Seventeen years old as he is, he has been studying Mandarin for five years and speak fluent Mandarin.


"Because my mother is Indian, I have a strong passion on oriental culture. That's why I choose to study Mandarin." he said with a smile: "I hope I will have the honor to be a volunteer in 2007."


Simon Grant Park, a timid native British boy, also longs to be a volunteer. However, his Mandarin is not as good as Pavan's.


"I've been studying Mandarin for only one year. Of course that's far from enough. I'll keep making effort to polish my language skill within one year." he said, confidently.


Simon has a Chinese name: Piao Si. While writing down his name, he highlighted the first character: "It reads Piao, not Pu." Even most Chinese often confuses the pronunciation.


"I'll try my best to pass the Mandarin subject of GCSE (general certificate of secondary education) in the future, which will qualify me to be a volunteer in China." Simon said.


In fact, Simon has already communicated well with members of Shanghai Special Olympic Football Team on 19th.


"We communicate with gestures and expressions." Simon recalled, "Sports is the language which will never be limited by region."


Not only students, but also teachers are impressed by China. Robert Glandwin, a finance teacher from Manor School, Nottingham Shire, admitted that he was "fascinated by the modernization of Shanghai."


"But what impressed me most is the sincerity and respect of Chinese people." Glandwin smiled and said.


During the summer camp, the British students and teachers had colorful extra-curriculums.


"We have language and culture classes in the morning," Glandwinre called," and learn Kongfu, or shadowboxing in the afternoon. Besides, we have visited such famous interests as the Yu Garden, Jinmao Tower. Amazing, really!


"And above all, everyone is looking forwards to Special Olympics in 2007."


On July 30th, all volunteer representatives of Special Olympics will have a ceremony, expressing their determination for the voluntary service.


Special Olympics offer the opportunity for mental handicapped people to take part in sports games and exercise their potential to the full. Its motto "Reach for the sky because if you happen to miss, you are still among the stars" inspires participants to share joy with their families, exchange skills and promote friendship.


The first Worldwide Special Olympics was held in Chicago, the United States, in 1968, and the next ten games were all held in US and Europe. But this time, it will be held in Asia for the first time.


The 2007 Worldwide Special Olympics, will begin in October 2007, Shanghai.


More than 10,000 athletes from over 150 nations and regions will take part in the games, which make 2007 Special Olympics really "special" as it is the first time to be held in a developing country and includes the largest number of people.


Compared with other sports games, Special Olympics pose a more demanding requirement for the volunteers, including the protection for athletes, emergency aid, guiding service and environment protection.


(Xinhua News Agency July 29, 2006)

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