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Humans of Olympics: Meet Han, Song and Xu, three Chinese friends volunteering in Rio

 Humans of Olympics: Meet Han, Song and Xu, three Chinese friends volunteering in Rio

Yan Han (English name Olivia), Wenjie Song (English name Marc) and Yingying Xu (English name Yvette) are in Rio de Janeiro to volunteer for the Olympic Games. The three Chinese friends speak English well enough to get through TOEFL or any other English leveling tests with ease and, of course, Mandarin (Cantonese too in Yvette’s case). Teenagers at the time of Beijing hosted the Olympics; the three are excited about being a part of South America’s first Olympic Games.

However, all three have very different reasons to be here. Olivia came here chasing love. The medicine student has a Brazilian boyfriend back home. He was headed to Rio as a volunteer. So, Olivia followed him and also enrolled as a volunteer. She is working with the venue operations team.

Marc is a sports enthusiast and follows closely the movement and progress of the Chinese contingent. He reckons China’s best medal hopes are in swimming, gymnastics, weightlifting, badminton (Malaysia is a threat in this he adds) and table tennis. His reason to be in Rio is for fun. He is volunteering at the Olympic Park.

For the French-sounding film studies student Yvette, it was her childhood dream to visit Brazil, especially the magical Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Olympics were the perfect excuse and she will be posted at the Maria Lenk swimming centre right beside the action and mingling with athletes as Field of Play Team Member for the swimming competitions.

They walk around Rio armed with their cellphones and Google Translator always on. “Quite like you would walk around in China if you don’t have your personal guide of translator,” explains Marc in a very matter-of-fact manner. This is almost always the case unless they bump into the rare Brazilian who speaks English or, the more likely, a Gringo in Rio who speaks both English and a bit of Portuguese. The three are going to be in Rio for a month and they hope they go back with a wee bit more knowledge of Portuguese than they landed here with.

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Updated Date: Aug 10, 2016 14:44:21 IST