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Where new friendships blossom

By Li Yingxue| China Daily| Updated: October 2, 2023 L M S


A volunteer helps Cheung Cheuk-ho from Hong Kong, China, make a lantern at the Volunteer Services Centre on Friday. ZHANG WEI/CHINA DAILY

The Volunteer Services Centre is at the heart of the Asiad's 'little green lotus', providing a dedicated space for voluntary staff to unwind and forge lasting connections, Li Yingxue reports

For the over 600 volunteers, collectively known as the "little green lotus" in reference to the color of their uniforms, within the Hangzhou Asian Games Village, there is a "safe haven" for them to unwind, rejuvenate, and make new friends.

This distinctive space is the Volunteer Services Centre.

Compared to the traditional volunteer resting areas at other large-scale events, the center in Hangzhou serves a more diverse range of functions, according to Huang Guanfei, the volunteer supervisor of the Asian Games Village human resources and volunteer management center.

"The center not only serves as a showcase for the Hangzhou 19th Asian Games volunteer culture, but also functions as the central hub for our volunteer operations. With the need to accommodate these two distinct functions, it was essential to create a clear spatial distinction," Huang said.

The design team divided the center's expansive 700-square-meter space into two separate, yet interconnected areas across different floors: The first floor features the volunteer culture exhibition hall, while the second floor serves as the volunteer rotation and relaxation area.

"Designing a dedicated exhibition hall to showcase the culture of the Asian Games volunteer service is a pioneering initiative and a first among large-scale sporting events' volunteer services," Huang said.

Wei Shuting, a junior student from Zhejiang International Studies University, works as a service assistant volunteer in the center, together with 17 other college students.

She explains that their daily job is to both introduce the exhibition and manage the rest area for all the other volunteers.

The first floor also features a cultural experience area, including distinctly Chinese activities, such as mask painting, printmaking, and calligraphy experiences for visitors to try.

Wei said the athletes are quite fond of these cultural experiences, especially the printmaking.

"On the second floor, which is our rest area, there are snacks and drinks, and sofas that are quite comfortable for us to rest on. We can have a cozy nap there," Wei said.

The rest area also hosts various activities for the volunteers, such as group birthday celebrations.

Zhang Chang, 21, another service assistant at the center, said they also prepare chess, go and books for the volunteers. She also has the task of recording the happy memories for all volunteers coming to the center.

Zhang is making many new friends through the volunteer work, as the whole team started their service in August and they all get to work and rest together.

Many of the volunteers in the village are from Zhejiang International Studies University. One of the leaders is a teacher there, and is also a qualified psychological counselor, offering support, helping to alleviate emotional stress and psychological pressure and essentially serving as a reassuring presence and "guardian" for the volunteers.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach visited the center on Sept 23. He warmly greeted the volunteers, presented them with commemorative pins featuring the iconic Olympic rings and asked about their work in detail.

"Thank you again for the great work you're doing and for your big smiles," Bach told them.

"You're making everybody happy."

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