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Home Living in China Foreigners in China Foreigners in China BE MY MIRROR MY SWORD AND SHIELD
Foreigners in China
By Cool Han

"Yes, I have been a journalist for the past 20 years. This is the third Olympic Games I am covering. I have attended the 1996 Games in Atlanta, USA; 2004 Games in Athens, Greece and now in Beijing.” Michael Bascombe, the press attaché from Grenada National Olympic Committee (NOC) introduced himself to me when I first saw him outside the gate of Olympic Village on a torrid August afternoon. 
The 38-year-old had a pair of sunglasses and a big smile on his face. A veteran reporter like him who works as correspondent for the Associated Press (AP) and the BBC Caribbean Service, Michael seemed quite satisfied with his new job title: Press Attaché, which included a series of works like answering journalists’ enquiries, monitoring and liaising with the media in and outside the Olympic Village, arranging press conferences, news briefings, media interviews and so forth. A sword and a shield are same in nature, but this time, Michael chose to be the shield instead of sword, though most of the time he remains a nipping sword.

Actually this is Michael’s second visit to Beijing—he was here in May for the Congress of the International Sports Journalist Association (AIPS). At that time, he had experienced something unusual in Beijing. “I felt uncomfortable while visiting Tian’anmen Square when I noticed a few men keeping me in their sights everywhere I go until I returned to the Beijing Hotel.” But I believe he understood reason for such a high level of security as well as China’s efforts to make a new Beijing and great Olympics.

And Michael never hesitated to praise 29th Beijing Olympic Games especially these volunteers he met and made good friends of. “From the Olympic Village to the competition venues I experienced a group of people who were serious about ensuring that participants and spectators enjoyed the Games. I believed that BOCOG must the highly commended for an almost flawless Games. I enjoyed every bit of the time here. Three cheers to BOCOG! And the volunteers were running over themselves to provide assistance, and many times went beyond their call of duty to ensure that we were satisfied.”

What about the inconvenience and difficulty he had encountered in the village? Michael thought for a while and said: “My only disappointed was the lack of available wireless internet in the dormitories. While the internet café provided that service free of cost I think the convenience of having it in your room would have been ideal.”

If you ask Michael about background of Grenada’s 29th Olympiad participants, you find the right person. Yet to win an Olympic medal, Grenada's best performance came at the 2004 Athens Games in athletics. In 2004 Athens Alleyne Francique (a name frequently appeared in Michael’s sports report) made the final of the men's 400m, finishing fourth behind a trio of athletes from the United States in the final. Hazel-Ann Regis also made the semifinals in the women's 400m in Athens. But maybe for these athletes medal is not the ultimate goal—to enjoy the sports and the competition, to experience the unique and fascinating Chinese culture are more meaningful and treasurable memories.

Michael is also the President of the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG). “In Grenada we enjoy the real freedom of press. As journalists I can write whatever I want to say.” Well it’s good to enjoy the freedom of media, but politics is too intricate a thing to make simple contentions. There are always different voices everywhere, no matter in Grenada or in China.

In an open letter to his media colleagues of Grenada, Bascombe expressed his disappointment with the coverage given by the media to political scandal. “You gain respect not by any politician or political party but by the public—regionally and internationally. It’s that simple.” And he claims: “Indeed for the media in Grenada to remain free, we call on the government to set up an independent body to review and issue radio licenses, based on a broad policy that is published and understood by all the players.”

That’s him—Sharp, observant and earnest—No matter as a reporter or Press Attaché. Actually on the list of high-risk careers, Journalist ranks NO.1 of suffering from psychological distress (the heartbreaking news of being the sword). Sometimes it drives reporters crazy to write a good report before deadline. They feel tired, bored and upset when they fail to make it out. So it's amazing that Michael has been a reporter for such a long time with passion and love. What’s the secret behind his success? His answer is simple but powerful: “You need to like what you do.” Yes “do what you love” and “love what you do” are two totally different attitudes towards work, as well as life. When Michael chose to like what he does as a journalist, he definitely found the key to living a happy and meaning life.

Besides athletes and sports, I bet you also have little knowledge of Grenada, the island country in Caribbean, if not because of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Grenada is called The Spice Isle since it is a leading producer of several different spices. Tourism is another thing Grenadians are proud of. The 3 Km long Grand Anse Beach in St. George (Capital) is considered to be one of the finest beaches in the world, and often appears in countdowns of the world’s top 10 beaches.

Small is beautiful—that’s the beautiful island country of Grenada. But when Michael made the decision to relocate himself to New York, what’s the idea hovering in his mind? “There are a number of reasons for relocating to the United States. Family is among the top priority. I enjoy staying around my family especially my two lovely daughters – Michaela 12 and Micah 9 and my wife Hazel of 15 years.”They are the inspiration in my life.” “Additionally,” Michael smiled, “it opens new opportunities to me - covering the United Nations and other high-profiled events in the United States and around the world. However, I am very much connected to my homeland – visiting as many as 10 times a year, sometime more.”

And probably it is the beautiful island that cultivated Michael into a man of patience, passion and optimism. In ancient China there is a saying goes that “if you take a person as mirror, you are able to distinguish clearly between right and wrong”. For Michael’s case, he serves as a mirror to those who’d like to be either journalists or Press Attachés, for he is a sword and shield simultaneously. However, it’s nothing about right and wrong—just two sides of one story.

“没错,我已经做了20年记者了。这时我第三次参加奥运会了。96年的亚特兰大,04年的雅典还有这次,北京。” 来自格林纳达国家奥委会的新闻官麦克•伯斯康比对我作自我介绍。第一次见到他是在北京八月一个闷热的午后,奥运村门口。













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