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MEETING OF CULTURES What was the highlight of the Games for you? I watched a lot of the swimming competition in the Water Cube and the highlight had to be the 4x100m freestyle relay. I thought Phelps was going to miss out on his way to eight gold medals but Jason Lezak was sensational in the last leg! What did you enjoy most about Beijing? I know that some foreign visitors were concerned about the air quality of Beijing, and it was a shame that there were not many sunny days during the Olympic Games. But the environment has improved a lot and the people of Beijing are making great efforts. But I think the atmosphere in the city was one of the highlights of the Games. As far as I was concerned, every international tourist and athlete felt our enthusiasm deeply. We were very friendly and peaceful, and welcomed everyone to Beijing. What will the legacy of the Games be for China? I think there are many benefits for China. The Games gave international tourists and athletes the opportunity to experience our culture first hand and boosted our economy. I believe more international corporations will want to work with us, and China will become more open and prosperous. What's more, it can help eliminate many of the stereotypes that foreigners held about us and lead to international understanding. Many citizens have started to enjoy studying English and pay more attention to our environment. After the glory of holding the 2008 Games in Beijing, maybe two decades later Shanghai will be a candidate city for the Olympic Games. LISHAN CHINA, SPECTATOR AboveChinese Olympic fan Li Shan outside the Bird's Nest stadium AboveBlogger Eli Bremer Where did you come from? New York City. I was born in Beijing and my parents live here now, but this is Chelsea's first trip to China. Which events did you watch? In the first week we went to the men's 4x100m freestyle finals, men's and women's synchronised 10m dive finals, men's synchronised 3m dive finals, and men's and women's team gymnastics finals. In the second week we went to the men's 110m hurdles final and the men's 4x100m and 4x400m relay finals. What did you enjoy most about Beijing? Beijing has changed tremendously over the past few years, and I love seeing how it has become a world-class city. The new subway system is fantastic and I'm amazed at how many of the city's younger population can now communicate in English. The city feels much more welcoming to foreigners and I've been very proud to show it off to Chelsea. How did you find the organisation of the Games? Terrific. We feel very safe given the security measures in place and we weren't delayed going into any events because of the searches. Did you visit any other venues or tourist sites in Beijing? The Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. What do you think the legacy will be for China? During a break at the equestrian finals, the organisers put on an exhibition of traditional Chinese kungfu performers. Most of the crowd were locals so they didn't pay much attention but I saw a little Swedish girl who snaked her way to the front row to get a better look. This, to me, will be the legacy of the Beijing Games – attracting people of all ages who would have otherwise hesitated to come and learn about our culture and history. I think the international community will come to view China as one of its own, with a rich and unique cultural background that enriches, rather than intimidates, the rest of the world. I hope that, at the same time, these Games will jumpstart a period of self- reflection for China regarding its place in the world and what it, too, can learn from its visitors. WILLIAMDENG AND CHELSEAZIESIG USA, SPECTATORS Below William Deng and friends outside the Water Cube

MEETING OF CULTURES One of the constants of every Olympic Games is the Village. It is the location where most athletes are housed during the Games and is the centre of fun, training, medical, and general living needs for athletes. This Games, the village is a sizable complex of nearly one square mile filled with numerous apartment complexes, a vast dining room, office space, a fitness centre, and even a 50- metre outdoor pool. It was built new for the Olympics and we are the first occupants. The inside of the village is pristine, a combination of modern apartments with classical Chinese architecture for the small parks and rivers in between buildings. Each country is housed in its own area. Because Team USA is so large, we cover the better part of two apartment buildings in the complex. Our buildings have American flags hanging from nearly every balcony. And while a few of the highest profile athletes have opted to stay in hotels, most of Team USA is in the village. One of the high points of being here is running into friends from other sports and talking to them about their athletic performances. Everyone is excited to be here to compete, and it shows in elevator conversation and passing " hellos". We also have internet rooms, phones that call back to the United States for free, and plenty of water and sports drinks in coolers to fight off the natural dehydration in the hot and humid climate here. There are game rooms, a McDonald's, and lots of TVs to watch events as well. If you wanted, you could spend your entire Olympics in the village and have a pretty good time. Transit to and from the village is very efficient as well. The Chinese have done a great job of making it easy to get around the city. Cabs only cost about a dollar per ten minutes in the car so I have been taking cabs as often as official Olympic transit vehicles. All in all, this place is a lot of fun. I am finally able to relax and enjoy the experience, feeling ready to compete in a few days. With only a few workouts left, I am starting to feel ready for my day to come… OLYMPIC VILLAGEBLOGEXCERPT ELIBREMER, MODERNPENTATHLETE, USA