as a weekly practice I listen to npr and do a little sketch on one of the stories. take a look, you can click on the illustration to make it bigger!

Friday, July 25, 2008

China Trains Cheerleaders To Rally The Masses.

It is no coincidence that the first published essay of China's former leader, Chairman Mao Zedong, was about sports. A strong nation, he wrote, needs strong people. And China has long used sports to bolster its international position and unite its masses. But the controversies surrounding this summer's Olympics in Beijing have heightened a heady mixture of Chinese pride and nationalism.

Officially Approved Slogans

The students in one cheerleading class are not leggy athletic girls with pompoms, but rather desk-bound, middle-aged government employees brandishing balloons. These workers have volunteered, without pay, to be cheerleaders. They are receiving 10 hours of instruction in how to shout the officially approved slogans, such as "Go China! Go Olympics!" At least 300,000 such volunteers will make up China's Olympic cheering squads. And 3,000 of those have been trained by Zhang Jinling, a professional enthusiast with a fixed rictus grin of joy.

"We raise our arms and shout powerfully to encourage China and the Olympics," she says to her students.

"Our cheering squads are more of a collective undertaking than NBA cheerleaders; they're more unified as a whole," Zhang says, explaining why China's fans should cheer with one voice. "Our squad is made up of workers and staff from different units, and they show the realization of our 100-year-long dream."

That dream has been to host the Olympics for the first time in China's history.

-excerpt from NPR

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