|A family photo (from left: Ma Chengpeng, Ma Han, Hu Aixiang and Ma Xunrui)|
Ma Chengpeng's family is from Wuwei, a city in East China's Anhui Province. Ma and his wife, Hu Aixiang, moved to Beijing in 2003. Since then, they have spent much of their spare time volunteering to help others. By doing so, they express gratitude to the residents of the Chinese capital, and especially for the help and support they have received since their relocation. Their daughter, Ma Han, and son, Ma Xunrui, have followed their example and become volunteers. For their efforts, Ma's family has been named one of the "most beautiful volunteers' family in Beijing."
The Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics concluded on March 13. By that day, Ma Chengpeng, his wife and their two children had spent several remarkable days, during which they had served as city volunteers while Beijing was hosting the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. They took turns providing services at city volunteers' stations. For example, they handed out brochures to passersby to help promote information related to the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
"My family received a lot of help when we encountered difficulties in the past. Now, it's our obligation to put on volunteers' uniforms and help others," Ma Chengpeng says.
|Ma Chengpeng and Hu Aixiang hand a brochure, about the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, to a passerby.|
Ma Chengpeng's hometown, Wuwei, was devastated by severe floods in 2003. A considerable amount of the crops were ruined. Ma Chengpeng and his wife relocated to Beijing, and they sought help from relatives and friends who were living in the Chinese capital. The couple found jobs, and they made their home in Beijing.
When Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics, in 2008, Ma Chengpeng was a volunteer. His son, Ma Xunrui, was born a few months after the Summer Olympics concluded (in August 2008). This year, 14-year-old Ma Xunrui was very happy to work with his father, mother and sister during the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Special Spring Festival Holiday
"Grandma, may I help you take some photos with the mascots?" Ma Han asked an elderly woman, who was visiting Ditan Park, in Beijing's Dongcheng District, on February 7. The elderly woman wanted to pose for selfies with the sculptures of the mascots, Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon. But the sculptures were too big, and it was difficult for her to take nice photos by herself. Ma Han noticed the elderly woman, and she immediately offered assistance.
Ma Han, 23, has been named a "most beautiful volunteer" and a "five-star volunteer" of Beijing. She has participated in various volunteer activities during the past 10 years.
In early March, a reporter from Women of China visited the city volunteers' station on Guang'anmennei Street, in Beijing's Xicheng District. Ma Chengpeng and his family were working at the station. "Look, here we have introduction brochures about the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. We also have some handicrafts popular in Beijing, such as kites and diabolos (the crafts used to play a game, in which one throws and catches a spinning top on a cord fastened to two sticks held in the hands). When some children and their parents pass by our station, the children like to walk in and see what we are displaying. We explain to them how we combine traditional Chinese crafts with the mascots, Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon," Ma Han told Women of China.
|Ma Xunrui and his mother, Hu Aixiang, work at Qianmen.|
Ma Han is head of the volunteers' department of the Communist Youth League Anhui Provincial Committee's work office in Beijing. During the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, Ma Han, her parents and her brother took turns working at the city volunteers' station on Guang'anmennei Street, and at railway stations, parks, and tourist spots, such as Qianmen. They reminded visitors to Beijing to pay attention to anti-epidemic requirements, they helped tourists book visits to parks and other sites, and they took photos of the tourists at places decorated with the Winter Olympics and Paralympics mascots.
The Spring Festival holiday was quite busy for Ma's family. "Volunteers compose a 'name card,' filled with the positive energy of our country. We want to show the world Chinese people's warmheartedness and hospitality. During the fireworks of the opening ceremony of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, we saw the 'welcoming pine,' a kind of pine tree famous in our hometown, Anhui Province. We were so excited!" Ma Chengpeng said. Added his wife, Hu: "Although we were not able to return to our hometown during the holiday, we obtained much happiness when we helped others. The Year of Tiger began with a special meaning, and particular warmth, for my family."
|Hu Aixiang greets a foreigner's family.|
Ma Xunrui, who was born in 2008, has grown up to be a responsible middle school student. As he joined his parents and his sister in serving as a city volunteer, he became more open and more willing to communicate with strangers. "I have learned more about the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. So many volunteers, at all ages, have made contributions to help ensure the successful holding of the sports games," Ma Xunrui says.
Sharing Warmth with Others
What was Ma Han's initial impression of the volunteers? "I used to think volunteers were people who wore specially made uniforms, normally printed with the Chinese characters 'zhi yuan zhe' (meaning 'volunteer'). But I had no idea about what they did exactly," Ma Han says.
In April 2015, Ma Chengpeng and Zhang Renjun, both from Anhui and both living in Beijing, founded a team of volunteers. The majority of the team's members work in Beijing. They spend time working at railway stations and bus stops, helping visitors in need; they go to nursing homes and help look after the elderly and/or disabled; and they participate in environmental protection activities. Influenced by her parents, who often volunteered to provide services, Ma Han, then a teenager, became a member of the team.
|Ma Han asks a girl to touch a handmade kite decorated with the mascots, Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon.|
In fact, ahead of the Spring Festival in 2014, Ma Han joined her father when he took a visually impaired couple to a long-distance bus station, so they could return to their hometown for the holiday. "The couple was about to depart from Sihui, in eastern Beijing.
They left in the early morning, but they couldn't find anyone to accompany them to the station. So, I went to their house to pick them up, and I helped them go to the station. My daughter was with me. The couple was moved when they heard a young student (my daughter) also came to help them," Ma Chengpeng recalls.
|Ma Xunrui shows Zhi Duo Duo, a cartoon designed by the Xicheng District volunteers' association, to a girl.|
Ma Han still remembers the first time she worked as a volunteer at Beijingxi Railway Station. It was when she was in her third year of junior high school. The train station is large, with many exits. To provide passengers with the right directions, Ma Han walked different routes in the station, several times, so she could remember clearly every important direction point. "Volunteers at a railway station often help passengers find the right direction. It seems easy when a volunteer points out the right way to a passenger who asks for help. But, actually, volunteers work hard to ensure they are familiar with various walking routes in the station," Ma Han says.
|Ma Chengpeng's family poses for a photo in front of the city volunteers' station on Guang'anmennei Street.|
Ma Chengpeng says it was a great honor for himself, and for his family, to witness the successful hosting of both the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics and Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. "What's more, my family took part in the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, as volunteers who worked in our capital city. We hope people from around the world witnessed, through the work done by us (volunteers), the tremendous efforts China has made to ensure the sports games proceeded smoothly. My family members and I were impressed by many athletes, who showed their self-reliance and strong will power," he says. Ma Han adds her family hopes more people will join the team of city volunteers, and that they will help show the world a positive image of Chinese volunteers.
Photos Supplied by Ma Chengpeng and Ye Shan
(Women of China English Monthly March 2022 issue)
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