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11 Aug 2008
IOC News , Beijing 2008

Nice to meet you, Zhang Jiayu

Volunteers make up a large part of the Summer Games. Not just in help, but also in mass. The National Stadium holds 91,000 people. The Olympic volunteers consist of 70,000 people, the Paralympic volunteers another 30,000. There are more volunteers than seats in the “Bird’s Nest”. The majority of the volunteers (who must be 18 or older) are stationed in and around the venues, and offer services to just about every department (e.g. guest reception, translation, transport, medical services, security, etc.). We met Zhang Jiayu at the Information Desk at The North Garden Hotel, and asked her a few questions about herself.
Why did you want to volunteer for the Olympics and how did you get chosen?
I took an examination that tested our English and I passed. Because we have to communicate a lot with foreigners, they were looking for students with language skills and knowledge about different countries and cultures. And I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to work for the Olympics. This is the first time for China to host the Olympics and I thought I had to do something for the Games, so I became a volunteer.
What does your day consist of as a volunteer?
I work about 8 hours, and my shift is 2.30 to 10 p.m. Mostly we explain many, many questions to all our guests. For example, where is the accreditation centre? Where is the subway? Can you write down the Chinese name of a place? But the most common question is, “How do I get to the Beijing Hotel?”, which is right across the street.
What do you like most about being a volunteer?
Because Beijing is such a big city there are many places that I don’t know, so I cannot guarantee I will know the answer to every question without getting on the Internet or calling someone. But every time I help a guest solve a problem I learn a new place and how to go there, and maybe next time I won’t have to check and can tell them the exact information. I think it is helpful for me to do all these things.
What will you do once the Olympics are over?
In September I will go back for my last year at Beijing Foreign Studies University. After that, I want to take a job.
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