Did Olympics affect your view of China? Should it?

Q.The Chinese hoped the Beijing Olympics would improve their image. Did it change the way you view China? Should the focus have been solely on athletics?

Jennifer Inskeep, 14, Myers Park High School, Charlotte: I think The focus should be on the sports, since that's why the Olympics exist. However, I think that the Olympics provided a good opportunity for us to learn about China. It allowed us to look at the Chinese government, and may encourage their government to become more open. The two non-sports stories I remember from this Olympics are that the nine-year-old in the opening ceremonies was really lip-synching to a seven-year-old's voice, and that although the government said they would allow protests, all of the protest applications were rejected.

Helen Hu, 16, Providence High School, Charlotte: 2008 was an opportunity for China to present itself to the world, to showcase its strength and power as a world leader, and they did not disappoint. This summer I revisited Beijing, the place I called home three years ago. What I saw was shocking- clean subways, improved air quality, grass and trees lining every road. I did not recognize the street I used to live on. Watching the opening ceremony as a member of the live audience, I felt a sort of pride I'd never felt about my home country before. China has truly outdone itself.

Jacob Keady, 14, Marvin Ridge Middle, Waxhaw: China's dishonesty at the opening ceremony gave me a more negative view on China. The fake fireworks were shameful. The girl who couldn't appear at the ceremony because she wasn't pretty enough and had to watch her singing lip-synched by a prettier girl is even worse! I learned that China is willing to lie to look good. I enjoyed watching most of the games. They were more exciting then the opening ceremony. The Olympics is about countries competing to see who has the best athletes. Let's focus on the sports, (especially the beach volleyball)!

Khevna Desai, 15, School of Math, Engineering, Technology, and Science @ Olympic, Charlotte: I'm not sure how the Olympics would “improve” China's image. I did not learn anything about China from watching the telecasts. The Olympics are about the games, not about a country. If China was so worried about their image wouldn't they have done something a long time ago? The focus should be only on sports because that is what the Olympics is about. I enjoyed watching the games. To see countries from all over the world come together for the games is a very nice thing to see in this time of war. Many world records were broken at this year's games. and the amazing athletes, Phelps, and Bolt were simply jaw dropping.

Stephen Idol, 14, South Charlotte Middle, Charlotte: I am extremely impressed with how the people of Beijing took the responsibility of the Olympics upon their shoulders and brought to us what has been perhaps the most spectacular Olympics of all time. The structures built for the games were without a doubt astronomically expensive and difficult to build. I admire the work ethic China must have to be able to present something so spectacular. The hard work that must have gone into the Olympics blows my mind. Through this Olympic “project,” China has definitely proven that it is a world superpower that deserves respect.