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13,000 young volunteers and cultural ambassadors selected to serve

By Li Yao (China Daily)

09:12, June 14, 2013

Volunteers of the Asian Youth Games receive training in etiquette in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on May 28. (Song Wenwei / China Daily)

Young people in Nanjing are set to play an important role as volunteers, cultural ambassadors and designers at August's Asian Youth Games and next year's Youth Olympic Games.

Since the host city launched a call for volunteers for the Asian Youth Games in October, about 100,000 people have applied. Of these, 13,000 have been selected to serve at the main venues such as the Nanjing Olympic Sports Center and the athletes' village.

The village, located at Nanjing University of Technology, will accommodate some 3,500 athletes and officials from about 45 countries and regions in Asia. To assist foreign guests during the games, the university has 2,000 students under training to act as volunteers, including first-aid workers.

Zhang Qiang, 21, a sophomore majoring in engineering management, joined an emergency response team in April.

During weekends, three experienced paramedics from the Red Cross Society of China's Nanjing branch, trained the team's 60 key members on how to treat patients with bone fractures, knife injuries and heatstroke.

"I learned how to use an oxygen mask in case of fire. I can share this practical knowledge with my family to ensure our own safety," Zhang said.

"It is a rewarding process. I acquired some medical skills, and learned the importance of serving others in needs," he said.

Jiang Zimin, a second-year civil engineering student, has been assigned to provide general help. Volunteers in this group assist athletes and their families navigate the city.

Twice a week Jiang and about 100 team members meet to practice English and polish their skills through role-playing exercises.

"My brother was a volunteer during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and has given me useful suggestions," Jiang said.

He said he is glad to join the team because he made friends with like-minded schoolmates from different schools.

In Nanjing, 45 primary and secondary schools have paired up with counterparts in member countries or regions in Asia under a "heart-to-heart" program aiming to promote cultural and educational exchange among youths from the host city and the delegations to the games.

During the games, a "festival of youth", will be put on in the athletes' village and "Asian cultural cottages" will be used to promote the customs of each Asian country or region.

Xingzhi Primary School, in Pukou, west Nanjing, established ties with the Red Swastika Primary School in Singapore in August 2012.

The Nanjing school set up a Singaporean corner on campus, displayed introductions about the country with bright-colored drawings, and recruited six students as cultural ambassadors who will explain their program to visitors .

The students learn to make simple but memorable souvenirs, such as bookmarks in the shape of orchids, Singapore's national flower.

Fifth-grader Hui Huaijing, 11, wears an Indian sari and tells visitors of Singaporeans of Indian origin. Hui can even paint henna tattoos, a body art using paste made from the henna plant.

Xie Hanyan, 29, is an English teacher at the school. She helps the six ambassadors improve their language skills because they will relocate to the Singaporean Corner at the athletes' village during the games.

"Students showed great interest in participating in these activities. The Singaporean Corner will be kept after the games, as the school will have stronger ties with Singapore," she said.

The School of Design at the Nanjing University of Arts has a studio authorized by the Youth Olympic Games' organizing committee in Nanjing. The studio encourages young people to design posters, emblems and slogans for the Youth Olympic Games.

The design school hopes to exhibit students' works during the Youth Olympic Games next year and display their talents to a wider audience, said Wu Lieyan, deputy dean of the design school.

Dong Siyan, 26, came to work at the studio earlier this year. She said she is familiarizing herself with the job, and she saw many students who are ready to contribute ideas for the games.

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