The “Smile Wristlets”

There are now only 582 days until the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  How do I know?  Well, there are countdown clocks all over town, and on most local news outlet websites, so it’s really kind of hard not to know, unless one intentionallly averts one’s gaze, which one is sometimes tempted to do.  One of the fun things to do these days is follow all of the campaigns and sloganeering that are accompanying these upcoming games.  Maybe other cities have done them.  I honestly don’t know, since this is the first time that I have lived in host-to-be city.  But China is good at campaigns and sloganeering so keeping up with them all is nearly a full-time job. 

The dawn of the new year saw the launching of yet another pre-Olympics campaign, this one yet again designed to address the…ahem…shall we say "manners issue" of Beijingers and ensure that Beijing puts forth a good image to the world.  It’s a SMILE campaign, and the gimmick here is that all Olympics volunteers will be given "smile wristlets" to wear throughout the games.  There are 5 different colors, and they each stand for something different:  red=readiness to help others; yellow=civility and politeness; black=honesty and trustworthiness; blue=studying and forging ahead; and green=environmental protection.  What any of those have to with smiling I’m not sure, but hey, who can be against studying and forging ahead?

At the ceremony to officially unveil these smile wristlets, the Vice Secretary of Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China and Chief of the Volunteers Work Coordination Group for the Beijing Olympiad (now there’s a title for you!) urged all Beijingers to be civil and flash smiles to visitors and guests from around the world.

I’ll tell you this….in a city where most of the toddlers still wear split pants, I for one am looking forward to having smiles flashed at me instead of certain other body parts.