Across China: English language trainer for 2022 Winter Olympics spends first Spring Festival in Beijing

Source: Xinhua| 2021-02-16 16:52:59|Editor: huaxia

BEIJING, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- This is the first year that Shaun Konstant is spending the Spring Festival holiday in Beijing.

It's his first time spending the winter in a northern Chinese city. "I love winter and also the winter sports," said the 37-year-old American.

As a language trainer for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, Shaun is in charge of providing language classes for the directors and staff of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee.

"I normally have three classes each week for a small group of students. Also, I give lectures to hundreds of people online every three months or so," he said.

Due to sporadic resurgences of COVID-19 cases in the capital at the beginning of the year, Shaun was forced to move his classes online.

"It's a challenge to teach online. Luckily, we have a great team and the Beijing 2022 committee was very helpful. We worked together and we put together some online training," he said.

Shaun's most recent online class took about three hours. "Not only were we able to have a very informative session, but we were able to have an interactive session because we put about 10 or 15 people in different practice rooms," he noted.

Shaun has been in China for almost three years, spending the first two in the city of Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, before making the move to Beijing in May 2020.

"I came to Beijing because I wanted to try something different. For example, to experience the northern Chinese culture," he said. "As for working for the Beijing 2022 project, I just love sports, activities, and everything about the Olympics. So I thought I could put them together -- teaching English and working for the Olympics. It is a challenging job, but the staff there are extremely great."

Shaun and his colleagues have training sessions for all the different sports departments to ensure everybody not just knows English but can use it during sporting events.

Speaking about the most interesting experience he has had at work, he said it had happened one month after he came to Beijing when he went to the suburban Yanqing District to work with the alpine skiing staff there.

"I had to work with lots of different people with the organization. It was my first time on location at a sporting event. I loved it because it made the whole practice situation more real. I got to actually see all of the construction and understand what their job is like, which helped my learning a lot."

Having a real desire to learn as much as possible about China, including the Chinese language and Chinese culture, Shaun has made many local friends and contacts that have reshaped his whole perspective on China.

During the Spring Festival holiday, Shaun chose to stay in Beijing to avoid crowds while traveling.

"I think the government's implementation of all of their strategies and regulations has worked out well and is very effective. China has a history of SARS. They know how to handle a big epidemic like this, taking actions like wearing masks, quarantining, and (enforcing) lockdowns," he said.

What impressed Shaun the most was China's use of technology during its epidemic control and prevention efforts.

"For example, the contact tracing that we use like with our phones. In Beijing, we have the health kit. It's amazing. Although it's a little inconvenient, it keeps everything so safe. I've noticed that anytime we have a breakout in Beijing, it only lasts for about a week or two."

Shaun also felt great admiration for the evident recovery of China's economy. "If you look at all of the economies of the world, China's economy is one of the few that has recovered. It recovered extremely fast, and we were able to get our businesses back on and grow the economy. So in my opinion, a lot of countries could actually look to China's example and take a page out of China's book in epidemic control and prevention," he said.

Shaun had many plans for the Spring Festival holiday, such as exploring places in Beijing like the pedestrian street Nanluoguxiang, the Drum and Bell Towers, and the Badaling Great Wall, spending more time with friends at restaurants, as well as studying Chinese.

"I'm very excited to experience the holiday in a place full of Chinese history and culture," he said.

Working in China to perfect his Chinese and having a part in bridging the cultural divide are Shaun's new year wishes. Enditem