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March 9, 2010

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Changning expat volunteers honored

FOUR foreign volunteer teams including 26 volunteers have been honored for good deeds in many fields by the Changning District government in a ceremony titled "Changning, Home to Us All."

Awards for service, including World Expo promotion, were handed out on Saturday by the district government.

Officials announced that on April 20 the district will launch a volunteers' Website, the Shanghai Hongqiao Volunteer Service Website (address to be announced). It will provide information on volunteer opportunities, specific projects, training, volunteer profiles and statistics.

Residents can register online to volunteer. They can chat with other volunteers.

Since the establishment of a "Foreign Volunteer Team" in Changning a year ago, more than 5,000 expats have taken part in Expo-related activities throughout the district.

They have volunteered in orphanages, retirement homes, and schools for visually and hearing impaired children. They also worked as traffic attendants during rush hour at busy intersections and served as teachers at language salons.

Noyan Rona, one of the award winners, said that to welcome the Expo, expats should "move as quickly and as voluntarily as local residents."

Changning is Shanghai's most international district and a source of varied foreign expertise. It has around 54,000 overseas residents from more than 100 countries and regions.

The district is home to 23 foreign consulates, 37 percent of the total in Shanghai, and more than 200 diplomats live there.

Changning has more than 3,600 foreign-owned enterprise and institutions.

A survey on expats' living situation was released at the ceremony by the Changning government. It showed that the majority of international residents are from South Asia, but in terms of countries, Japan has the most residents, almost 21 percent of the district's foreign residents. Japan is followed by the United States, with around 12 percent.

About 30 percent of the foreign residents have lived in Shanghai for more than five years and 30 percent expressed willingness to spend another five years in the city.

More than 95 percent of overseas residents know the theme of the World Expo opening on May 1, "Better City, Better Life." More than one-fourth said they would be willing to become Expo volunteers, doing translation, public relations, educational and organizational work.

According to the survey, international residents are primarily interested in five categories of information: guides on living; policies; economic and trade activities; basic facts about Shanghai and China; and history, culture and customs of Shanghai.

Three-fourths of respondents said they get most of the information from the Internet; 40 percent said local newspapers and magazines are other important sources.

The most popular newspaper among expats in Shanghai is Shanghai Daily, according to the survey. More than half of the respondents said they read the newspaper.

Around a third of those surveyed cited broadcast media as information sources, including International Channel Shanghai (ICS), CCTV9, Phoenix Channel and Dragon TV.

At the ceremony on Saturday, officials said the Shanghai Hongqiao Volunteer Service Website will enable readers to browse more than 100 volunteer service items in nine categories throughout the district. They include environmental protection, medical service, legal service, psychological counseling, promoting public etiquette, technical support, maid and housekeeping services, care for people with disabilities and group activities.

Through the online platform, volunteers can also receive professional service training, take part in volunteer salons and chat rooms, make like-minded friends, and start new volunteer activities.


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