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The Olympic Girl

March, 2008
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IMG_9225  Natasha Weaser, a Year 10 student at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai), was selected and given the privilege of carrying the Olympic Torch through the streets of Shanghai this May as part of the Beijing 2008 Olympics Torch Relay.

  Only five foreigners were chosen from a pool of over 3000 applicants competing for only 80 public spots in the torch relay. Natasha was chosen to represent both the United States and the International Student Body of Shanghai. Congratulations to Natasha!

  We are pleased to have Natasha on the cover of our fist issue of LittleStar SH. The high schooler shared with us her excitement about the Olympics and life as an international student in Shanghai on a recent afternoon after school.

  LittleStar: In about two months’ time you will be attending the Beijing 2008 Olympics Torch Relay. Are you very excited?

  Natasha: I just feel so incredibly privileged to be given this honor that I think I am still in shock from being chosen! I am just looking forward to exploring opportunities to use my run to raise money for a charitable cause.

  LittleStar: Have you ever been involved in any other Olympic Games before?

  Natasha: I have never been to any Olympic events. But I really hope to do so this summer during the Beijing Olympics and be part of this exciting and historic event.

  LittleStar: How did you find out about this torch bearer selection?

  Natasha: Actually it was my dad who found out about this opportunity, and he encouraged me to apply. At first, I was quite doubtful about my chances of even passing the first round of interviews. But when I made it through I knew that I really wanted this because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to represent my country and fellow international students through such a prestigious event.

  LittleStar: What questions were asked at the torch bearer panel interviews that you have passed?

  Natasha: Initially, some questions were on Olympic knowledge, but as I progressed to further rounds of interviews the questions focused on why I should be selected as a torchbearer. I answered that I wanted to be a torch bearer because I want to embody the Olympic spirit and make a difference in this world. I believe that being a multicultural child and a third-culture kid has given me a unique perspective of the world.

 

  LittleStar: As part of the selection process, you had to write two essays in Chinese to explain what you would do to advance the Beijing Olympic theme “One World, One Dream”. What did you write in your essays?

  Natasha: In my essay, I wrote: “By carrying the Olympic torch, I hope to make a difference in the world by embodying the Olympic theme of ‘One World, One Dream’. I interpret this dream as everyone uniting, no matter what their race, country or background is. It is my hope that this would lead to a more harmonious and peaceful world. I believe China will play a crucial part to turn this dream into a reality, and I would be privileged to be a small part of it as well”. I also wrote about doing community service in Yangshuo which was very much a life-changing experience. It was an eye-opener that led me to become more involved in community service activities in and out of school.

 

  LittleStar: What do you think an international school student can do to support the Olympics?

  Natasha: I think the most important thing an international student can do is to support the Olympics and to uphold its message of unity despite differences. Shanghai will be hosting some of the athletic events so students can find out more about volunteer opportunities in these events.

  LittleStar: You yourself must like doing sports a lot. What kinds of sports activities do you like most?IMG_9230

  Natasha: Sport is definitely something I enjoy very much. I play for my school’s varsity volleyball team, and I swam competitively for a long period of time. The best part of volleyball, in my opinion, is the teamwork required to play the game because it isn’t a type of sport that can be won by one person alone. Winning is always great, but belonging to a team that supports each other no matter what really is the thing I enjoy most about volleyball. I am also a yoga enthusiast because being a student can cause a lot of pressure at times, and yoga is a great way to relieve this stress.

 

  LittleStar: So, is volleyball your favorite Olympic sporting event?

  Natasha: YES. I would have to say my favorite sport event in the Olympics is volleyball. Since I play volleyball in school, I have a natural interest for the game, and I always try to notice the techniques of the players during volleyball matches on television.

  LittleStar: YCIS Shanghai must be very proud of you as their student. So, how long have you been studying at an international school?

  Natasha: I started attending YCIS Shanghai in January 2004. I am very proud to belong to such a bilingual school that teaches its students to appreciate both the East and the West. I have been studying at an international school for about 5 years. Previously I was in United World College in Singapore and, prior to that, I attended local schools in Singapore.

  LittleStar: How do you like studying at an international school?

  Natasha: I do believe being an international school student will better prepare me for the future. Each of us has strikingly different backgrounds and opinions, and yet we all learn to get along and accept each others’ differences. The world is globalizing at such a rapid pace, so the ability to tolerate other beliefs and interact with people from other cultures is a very valuable skill.

  LittleStar: Do you have some advice for other international students?

  Natasha: Many international students complain endlessly about living in China and focus on negative aspects such as cultural differences. I would advise them to embrace the differences in culture and open their eyes to realize that they are very lucky to have the opportunity to live in such an amazing country. They will have experiences that many worldwide can only dream about. International students should remember that we are guests in China and guests usually bring gifts to their hosts. The best gift we can give is to give back to the community. Most schools organize community service activities, but there are numerous other options and opportunities out of school.

 

By Xing Yangjian

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