The Beijing Olympic Volunteer Trek

Last August 13 to 27, a select group of 36 RCs and ECs from 17 different countries participated in a once-in-a-lifetime event: TheBeijing Olympic Volunteer Trek.

The idea of organizing a trek to China during the Olympics and volunteering for the Games was first posted on the prematriculation bulletin board in May 2007. After almost a year of planning, 36 lucky students were drawn from over 150 trek applicants.

Lawrence Yu (OG), Robin Zhang (OH), Zhong Li (OB) and Mohit Bathija (OJ) were the leaders of the trek. In addition to exploring China’s rich history and culture and visiting top-tier corporations, raising funds for the Para-Olympics and experiencing the Olympic Games were the key highlights of the trek.

The Olympic Trek started in Hong Kong, where students visited Victoria Harbor, Star Avenue, and Ladies Street (shopping). Notably, Hong Kong provided students a first-hand experience of China’s One Country, Two Systems policy.

Via an express bus, the group then crossed the border to Shenzhen on the mainland side. In Shenzhen, students had the opportunity to witness China’s economic miracle. Just 25 years ago, Shenzhen was only a tiny fishing village.

In Shanghai, we rode the world’s fastest train- the Maglev- into the city, which is the business capital of China. The Bao Steel dinner- in the center of Pudong and with a great view of the Bond’s beautiful skyline- was one of the highlights of the Shanghai stop. We also enjoyed good times at Bar Rouge, 88, Yu Garden, and a crazy night out at Richy.

Beijing was the final destination of our trek. The moment we got off the overnight train from Shanghai, people headed to different Olympic events. Beach Volleyball, Diving, Table Tennis, Boxing, Track and Field, Soccer, was truly a sports fans’ heaven. There were Olympic volunteers everywhere to help visitors find their way to the different venues. Watching the USA win both the Men’s and Women’s 4×400 in record-breaking fashion in the Bird’s Nest was truly a memorable experience.

The day after the Olympics, we did our Tour de Beijing, where we rode bicycles around the Forbidden City and the Olympic Park while wearing official trek t-shirts showing a Beijing 2008 logo on the back. Through the bike tour, we not only had a look at many of Beijing’s historical sights, but also got a closer view of the Olympic landmarks known as the “Water Cube” and “Bird’s Nest.”

Finally, a China trek would not be complete without a visit to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Although it was a hot summer day in Beijing, climbing the Great Wall never felt cooler!

Being Chinese, it was truly a rewarding experience to tour HBS classmates around China and to show them the remarkable progress the country has made in such a short time. Hopefully, the Olympic Games will encourage more people to visit China and to acquaint themselves with Asian culture and history.

September 8, 2008
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