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Student Reporters on the Olympic Beat

June, 2006
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Teenagers Sherina Chan and Rena Sha won’t just be spectators at the Beijing 2008 Games. The two students from the Yew Chung 4 International School of Beijing will have inside access as reporters on the Olympic beat. The pair recently paid a special visit to the editorial department of the Beijing Olympiad’s official portal. They met the department manager and learned how to update a lead story on the official website for the 2008 Olympics, which was about UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s impending visit later that day.

  The visit was actually the first assignment for the two girls, who just became members of the newly formed international branch under the Beijing Student Press Association (SPA).

  They were quick to get into the role and Chan also raised her first question.

  “I asked them if the website is going to be in other languages as well and they said the website is already in three languages: Chinese, English and French and later in five languages when the 2008 Olympics starts,” Chan said.

  Although Chan had some experience of doing interviews as a student reporter when she was in Hong Kong, she believes this is truly a special opportunity for her.

  “I don’t know yet if I would become a real reporter in the future, but I will cherish the opportunity now,” she said. “I would hopefully stay in Beijing till the 2008 Olympics and have the chance to interview the athletes.”

1   Sha also expressed her strong interest in the Beijing Olympics. “This could be my first time to see the Games and I wish to go to other Olympics in the future, too,” she said.

  Established 21 years ago, the Beijing SPA is the biggest amateur press association for students in Beijing. It has gained a highly respected reputation in having trained many excellent TV hosts, reporters and journalists across China as well as having a positive impact on students.

  The idea for starting the first-ever recruitment of foreign students for the press association came from the great interest of expatriate students towards the 2008 Olympics. The foreign students’ passion deeply touched Wang Xiao and Wang Sijing, two editors from the Middle School Times, who are also in charge of the Beijing Student Press Association.

  According to them, some 70 students at Yew Chung International School of Beijing applied to join the association when they heard they could do interviews on the Beijing Olympics and write stories for the Chinese media.

  To find out who are qualified for the press association, the two editors prepared both a written and an oral exam for all the applicants. The questions involve the Beijing Olympics and also their life in Beijing.

  “All the students in SPA need to write stories in Chinese and do interviews independently. Their Chinese-speaking skills must especially be very good,” said Wang Xiao. “Some students have very good Chinese skills, while some couldn’t complete a Chinese sentence yet. But they all have the confidence and passion for it.”

  The association finally recruited 20 student reporters and gave them SPA press cards.

  “Not a Chinese student at SPA can receive the press card until he or she has got at least three stories published in our publications,” Wang added. “We hope the press card can give them some convenience in their interviews in the future, as the Student Press Association, including this new international branch, is a highly independent organization. The 20 children should arrange interviews, have meetings and finish their stories all by themselves.”IMG_5017

  Given the different perspectives and journalism styles between China and the West, Wang hopes this international branch will enrich their publication, making the SPA into a more international organization.

  The next assignment for the international branch is to do interviews on 100 foreign children about their feelings about the Beijing Olympics, as part of a campaign called “One World, One Dream” led by the Beijing Youth Daily.

  “In the future, each of them will have interview opportunities and they need to be ready for anything that would happen,” Wang said.

  The editor admitted the first-ever international branch of SPA in Yew Chung International School of Beijing would produce a good model for  other established international schools in Beijing to follow.

  “Expatriate children are all welcome to the SPA as long as they have the passion for the job,” she said. “And they should also have a good command of Chinese.”

Students can also apply for the opportunity directly from SPA by attending the annual exam by the association between July 14 to16. For further information, please contact Wang Xiao of the Middle School Times at: 010-6590 2450/ 2627.

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