According to a recent online survey by Extrawhite,
a maker of chewing gum, a quarter of the people in China never smile or
smile less than five times a day. The survey found that only 2 per cent of
Chinese people are willing to smile at strangers.
To reverse this situation, a group of 40 students from the Humanities
and Communications College of Shanghai Normal University launched a team
of "smiling volunteers" last month. Their technique is simple enough: they
smile at people.
They carried out their first "smiling task" on Saturday at the Shanghai
Film Art Centre, where they smiled at all the visitors and asked if anyone
needed any help.
"We started to prepare for this special team back in October," said Dai
Ningning, a teacher at the college who is in charge of the team.
But the team's work is not all fun and games. Dai suggested that the
team's work also had a professional component. "Most of our students will
be teachers after they graduate. Smiling is necessary for good teachers.
We hope they will learn how to smile at each other properly before they
become teachers," she said.
Dai added that she had high hopes for the "smiling volunteers" team.
"The team will recruit more members in the future. We have no special
requirements for the students who want to be members of the team. The only
requirement is that they have sincere smiles and helping hearts, and are
always ready to assist other people," she said.
Xu Xiaohong, a first-grade post-graduate student at the university,
leads the team. She said that not all students found it easy to smile all
"When volunteers help other people, smiling is the best way to make
other people understand that the volunteers are ready and sincere," she
said. "Smiles can also erase a sense of strangeness
among people who do not know each other."