Editor’s Note: You all remember Shawna Xu, the Renmin University student who helped out the group from the University of Missouri last summer while we fumbled our way around Beijing. Her translation skills saved us countless times.
In an e-mail, she reminded me that it’s been a year since we experienced Beijing and the Olympics. And she wrote a memory.
“Give some feedback or comments and I can revise it if needed. I want it to be perfect for the one-year anniversary, ” she wrote.
I decided to add it to the MojoBeijing blog as she sent it.
(If any of you have one-year-later thoughts, let me know and I’ll add them too.)
Been there, done that
Another summer has come; another Olympic time.
One year ago at this time, all of us were too excited for the big night—the opening ceremony night on Aug 8th 2008. Greg, Larry, some MU journalist students and I watched the opening ceremony in the hotel on Renmin campus. We were giving random guess about how the Olympic flame would be lit, and how the games would be going.
When we witnessed (on TV) the scrolls came out from the floor in the Birds’ Nest, and the fireworks surrounding the Olympic Green, and the whole “Chinese history told in the world’s language” which was truly spectacular, we were all shocked. As the only Chinese among the American audience, I felt proud, excited, and just like everybody else, I was truly impressed by the Olympic spirit out there.
For the two months of the Olympic summer, I worked as a volunteer from Renmin University of China, and my job was to help the journalist volunteers from University of Missouri, who were living on my campus. For most of the Mizzou journalists it was the first time to be in China; for me it was the first time to work for an American group; and for all of us, it was the first time that we were so close to the Olympic Games!
We did have some “lost in translation” problems. Greg spent a lot of time to figure out my accent speaking English, and I spent a million more time to understand what he was trying to express in Chinese. After a language battle of one summer, we finally came to the mutual understanding that, language is power!
And of course, we occasionally encountered cultural shocks. I had never expected Larry would ask me whether the sign “the grass need your protection” on the lawn on campus meant “stay away from the grass”. From my previous experience it was quite normal that we just write down “the grass is growing”, “the grass is sleeping”, or the like, to imply a warning of “don’t step on the grass”.
But it was amazing that, despite of all the language and cultural differences behind us, we found lots of things in common. We gave similar comments on movies; we shared the same love for particular food; we tried to enjoy certain bad jokes; we all enjoyed those cultural shocks which were sometimes refreshing; and most importantly, we all knew we were embracing the same passion for the 2008 Olympic Games.
The Mizzou group certainly made it a great summer with wonderful memories, even though it went too fast. We shared the same highlight in those two months, which could compete with the greatest months on our life’s scale. The games, the people, the journalism, the volunteering, the fun, the excitement, the shocks, the Olympics—when everything comes fresh out of memory, it’s just like yesterday once more.
I miss the 2008 Olympic Games, and I miss last summer. On the streets those Olympic posters once everywhere were gone; those Olympic volunteers in blue uniform were no longer around the subway; and when trying to enter the Olympic Green you don’t need to go through the tough securities any more. People are starting to get used to this post Olympic time.
However, you can always smell a bit of the euphoria from last summer. You can still watch those old Olympics and Paralympics games on the subway TV, for instance. I know this sounds crazy, but I’m pretty confident to give out the forecast that next time you come here, those videos would probably still be there!
Nothing has changed that much in Beijing. But, it seems that everything here has been different. We’ve been there, and we’ve done that. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We’ll always have Beijing. We’ll always have the Olympics.
- Shawna Xu