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New botanical garden guides masters of their field
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A group of tour guides have become the latest attraction at the South China Botanical Garden in Guangzhou, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.


The young women volunteers look no different from other tour guides, but they are all PhD candidates studying at the South China Institute of Botany.


It is the first time, in China, PhD candidates have become tourist guides at a botanical garden.


The eight guides, all in their mid-20s, have proven to be "unexpectedly" charming and sociable, according to media reports.


Six of the ladies began their duties on Jan 10 and Xu Ling, from the Bai ethnic minority of Yunnan province, wore a traditional costume especially for the occasion.


One of the guides, Liu Xia, from Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, dressed stylishly in a red sweater, short jeans and hairy boots.


Yang Yulan, from Guizhou province, a fan of Zhou Bichang, the first runner-up of the 2005 Super Girl singing contest, imitated her idol's style with short hair and framed glasses.


The guides will be trained to make interesting remarks and be personable.


Huang Shanshan, for instance, introduced a rare vine by quoting a well-known poem by Li Yu, the last emperor of the Southern Tang Dynasty (AD 937-975). She then compared the vine to tangled thoughts.


When challenged by questions such as, why are there white and blue jasmine flowers? Yang responded the various colors represent periods of flowering.


Liao Jingping, director of the horticulture center at the botanical garden, said more than 30 students and professors had volunteered to be part-time tour guides at the garden.


Every day, Liao said, there will be at least one PhD candidate working in the garden as a guide.


"It will help popularize botanical knowledge among the public," Liao said.


(China Daily January 29, 2008)


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