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Beijingers ready to host Olympic family
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20:59, April 30, 2008

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Guo Ping, a retired Beijing resident, is working hard these days to practice her English, hoping her family can be chosen to host foreign guests during the forthcoming Olympic Games.

The Beijing government will choose and authorize one thousand local households as "Olympic host families" to accommodate foreign spectators during the international sports gala this summer. As a basic qualification, at least one of the host family members is capable of daily communication in English.

In order to meet this standard, Guo needed to practice spoken English with her husband everyday. They transcribed dialogues from "English 900", an essential English-learning book in China, onto pieces of cards and carried them in their pockets, so that they could memorize and go over the dialogues whenever possible, even when they were taking a walk or shopping.

"I learnt a little English at school, but it was long ago. Memorizing all the dialogues in such a short time and using them properly is not easy, especially for people in our age. Therefore, we have to practice even harder," said Guo, who is in her sixties.

Apart from the fluency of foreign language, host families have to meet other standards like international etiquette and medical-care knowledge. They need to provide separated bedrooms with good day lighting and ventilation, as well as a homey atmosphere. Moreover, these host families are supposed to introduce Chinese culture to their guests. The daily rental of such bedrooms will be 400 to 600 yuan RMB (57 to 88 U.S. dollars).

Like Guo and her husband, there are thousands of families in Beijing, which are enthusiastic to become part of the Olympic Games by hosting foreign spectators. And among all the candidate households, some have already received the authorization from the government.

Han Rubing is one of those lucky guys. Working as an college English teacher, Han speaks English fluently, and their apartment is just 10 minutes walk from the National Olympic Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest.

"We will have the living room redecorated and walls rendered. Also, all the floor and window curtains of the guest bedroom will be changed," said Han.

"Foreigners can not fully experience and understand Chinese culture unless they really live within it," said Han.

While talking about culture, she first thought of food. "We will treat them with traditional Chinese food, like dumplings, soybean paste noodles," she said.

"And Beijing roast duck, too!" said Han's son, a seven-year-old who was also looking forward to welcoming foreign guests in their cozy home.

The procedure of choosing host families will be completed before the Olympic Games. So when thousands of foreign visitors pour in Beijing this summer, some of them will not only feel at home, but actually stay in a home.


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