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15 Aug 2014
Nanjing 2014 , YOG , IOC News

Athletes sample Chinese culture as part of Nanjing 2014’s Culture and Education Programme

Swiss high jumper Salome Lang took a deep breath and steadied herself as she calmly put the finishing touches to the Chinese fan she was making. One stroke of a brush later, she held it in the air for all to see.

“It was a lot of fun, a new experience, but it was very difficult to draw like this," Said Lang during a visit to the Chinese Culture Booth at the Youth Olympic Village.

Salome Lang (left) of Switzerland at the Chinese Culture Booth

“It’s not a normal pen and it was not normal paper, it was very thin. But it was a lot of fun. It was cool to learn new things,’’ she added.

While the emphasis at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games is on competition, there is more for the athletes to do than just test their ability on the field of play. There is also a rich Culture and Education Programme (CEP) featuring more than 50 activities for athletes to choose from.

As Lang learned the fine art of making a Chinese fan, an official from Russia was learning about the history of the Great Wall of China.

Meanwhile, in another building, about two dozen Games participants were taking a class on nutrition and cooking, while others watched an open-air display of yo-yo tricks.

“We just arrived and we have not had a chance to do a lot of activities, but we will try to see as many as possible,’’ Lang said. “This is pretty cool and we’re trying to meet as many people as we can.”

Towering beach volleyball player Phillip Ayobami Akande of Nigeria can relate perfectly to what Lang had to say.

Akande and a team-mate wandered into the Chinese Culture Booth and were immediately surrounded by other athletes.

The young athletes speak different languages and eventually they got their questions across.

“It’s fun to talk to people about their culture and they ask me about mine,” Akande said. “They asked me about the way we dress, our traditional food. They asked about the weather back home and things like that.”

Akande then recalled a conversation he had with a Canadian about snow, which is something the Nigerian has seen only in pictures and films.

“We do not have snow,’” he explained.

Then, as he glanced to his left, he saw a bright smile on Lang’s face as she finished making her Chinese fan.

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