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Security tight, but volunteers helpful

Posted by Shira Springer, Globe Staff  August 8, 2008 11:05 AM

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BEIJING -- Security was tight with every crosswalk, every stadium entrance and every off-limits space guarded by a sizeable contigent of volunteers, Army soldiers and police. But it was actually quite easy to get into the stadium as long as you had a ticket in hand. And once you figured out where you were going, it didn't take long to find a seat. And the omnipresent and multi-lingual Beijing Olympics volunteers were only too happy to help along the way. I know who'd I like organizing and running airport security in the US.

The Chinese national anthem is "March of the Volunteers" and there couldn't be a more apt description of the Beijing Games. That's a great advantage of being a country with 1.3 billion people, plenty of volunteers to go around. There are English-speaking Chinese volunteers everywhere, eager to assist.

As I approached the "Bird's Nest" stadium, volunteers directed me to entrance E. Once inside, when I asked again where I should go, a volunteer simply said, "Follow me." No two words are more welcome when lost in a foreign country in a giagantic stadium than "Follow me."

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