Friday, September 12, 2008

Energized by kindness

Marcel Bergmann thought he knew well the kindness of the Chinese people. But the Beijing Paralympics has exceeded the German reporter's expectations.

"I've attended the Paralympics in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, but this one has given me the most satisfaction. Beijing's attitude toward disabled people is 100 percent positive," the 44-year-old sports reporter with ZDF , told China Daily yesterday.

"I work 12 hours a day here, but it's fun. The locations, such as the Paralympic village, are fantastic. People have helped me get into taxis and lifted me up stairs. They always smile at me and say hello in English. It has given me a lot of energy," Bergmann said.

A car accident in 1994 claimed his father's life and left him in a wheelchair.

When he reached his lowest point in 2005, recovering from "endless operations", Bergmann decided a trip to China would buck up his spirits.

"I had long been interested in China's culture and history," he said.

Last year, accompanied by a friend, he visited China for three weeks. He traveled through many parts of the country, and once hand-pedaled his wheelchair about 50 km around the border of Guizhou and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

At the Great Wall he tried to use the cable car, but the steps to the terminal were much too steep.

"An employee of the station kneeled down in front of me and gestured that I should get on his back. He carried me 50 m up the wall.

"I didn't know him. It was a little miracle for me," Bergmann said.

The trip opened a new chapter in his life.

"With such help, I regained confidence that adventures are still possible. I accepted my wheelchair as my legs," he said.

Bergmann published a book on his China trip, In a wheelchair from Shanghai to Beijing. A review of it was written by the present German President Horst Kohler. It once occupied 24th position on Germany's bestseller list.

Kohler told President Hu Jintao about the book when they met a day after the opening ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics.

"I'm so proud of it," Bergmann said.

As a reporter he knows there are differences between countries. "More Germans should come to China to witness the eyes," he said.

Source: China Daily

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