Thursday, August 7, 2008

Indian Couple selected For Volunteering Beijing Olympic Games

Beijing: Among the 100,000 volunteers who have been practising their smiles to greet athletes, journalists and spectators during the Beijing Olympic Games, will be the husband-and-wife duo Manish and Monica Chopra. They are the only Indian volunteers to have been selected to serve at the Games. They applied online last year.

They were informed of their selection a few months ago and say they are thrilled to have “fulfilled a dream.”

“I am really not at all athletic,” Ms. Monica said. “So volunteering at the Games is really the closest I can come to them, since neither Manish nor I are ever likely to become athletes!”

The young couple have lived in China for four years. While Mr. Manish works for a U.S. company with sourcing operations in China, Ms. Monica is an English teacher at the Indian embassy school in Beijing.

As with any statistic related to China, the number of those who applied to serve as volunteers for the Games was also outsize: over 1.2 million. Among them were 22,000 foreigners. Finally, 199 were selected.

What went in Mr. Manish’s favour is his Chinese language ability. “My Chinese is good enough to even have a fight in.” He has been assigned to help spectators at the Yindong Natatorium, the venue for the pentathlon and water polo events, at the National Olympics Sports Centre of Beijing. He has been going into the venue daily for the past week and will continue the routine till the Games end on August 24. “The first time I entered the venue with my badge and uniform, I felt like I had won the gold medal of my life.”

Ms. Monica says putting on her volunteer uniform is a rush. “I get stopped on the subway and on the streets when people see my uniform. They give me the thumbs up sign and encourage me with whatever little English they have.”

Her job is at an Olympics information call centre where she trains Chinese staff in handling questions called in, in English. “We specially try and get them used to different accents and speeds of talking.” The biggest challenge the couple have faced in their endeavour is explaining to friends and family exactly what volunteerism entails. “People think either we are being paid money to volunteer or that we had to pay to get chosen,” she says. The volunteers are provided free transport and food; there is no other remuneration.

Soure:The HIndu

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