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February 23, 2010

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Dream of going to Shanghai

AMERICAN Indians believe that reciting a wish over 10,000 times will make it come true." I remember reading those words in my childhood, and they have been a source of encouragement for me ever since.

Right now, the "dream board" in my room is covered with a map of China and seven reminders under the title "If I go to Shanghai ?" Every morning when I get up, I read them aloud before I leave home to keep this dream alive.

If I go to Shanghai ?

1) I would like to take a language program for one term at Fudan University. Rather than cram myself with 100 or 1,000 Chinese words, I would prefer to immerse myself with people on campus so that I can learn to speak more Chinese and experience first-hand the culture of China. I would like to keep on like this until I can read the original versions of Chinese classics instead of their translated versions, and until I can laugh at funny TV programs without needing someone to tell me what was said. My longing for the Chinese language will last until these dreams come true.

2) Like any other culinary culture, Chinese food is also closely linked to geography and history. Those exquisite classic Shanghai-style dishes on the plates not only exhibit the regional culture of Shanghai but also have profound implications. What would the crabs from the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River taste like? I've heard that the most representative dishes of the Shanghai cuisine include stir-fried shrimp, soft-shelled turtle meat braised with soy sauce, tender steamed shad, eel seasoned with soy sauce and stewed sea cucumber. If I go to Shanghai, I will taste all the delicacies there.

3) I have a friend who is an exchange student from China. Thanks to him, I heard the sonorous songs of Peng Liyuan, although I can't remember their names. Her breezy voice helped me glimpse the future. I've always dreamed about spreading my favorite South Korean music across the world to touch ordinary people. Ms Peng's life track has become an important beacon for my life. Every time I suffered a setback and wanted to abandon my dreams, I would listen to her songs and they would inspire me. If I go to Shanghai, I will find her and express my sincere gratitude.

4) In 2006, I traveled to over 20 countries in six months, giving performances of South Korean music. By the Indus River, in a Nepalese field under a starry sky, in Paris, the music of South Korea echoed on grand stages and by rainy roads. In 2010, I hope I can perform my South Korean music on Fuzhou Road in Shanghai. If you happen to hear someone singing aloud when strolling in that road on a sunny day, please cheer me on: "Come on, Lee An!" Your smiles will be my greatest encouragement.

5) Since I travel so much, I have developed my own way of storing memories: learning local folk songs, like Arirang of South Korea. These folk songs go beyond age gaps and remain popular with the public because they embody the philosophies and feelings of ordinary people, and the wisdom of life and innocence of souls. From a song's pitches, rhymes and lyrics, a musician can perceive the living conditions of a nation, whether they are enjoying peace and happiness or suffering wars or natural disasters. I would like to get closer to China by learning Chinese folk songs rooted in history.

6) I would like to see all the avenues and lanes in Shanghai: its traditional bazaars, cultural streets, gourmet streets and those small alleys between skyscrapers. Like a gourmet who savors the sight of delicacies, I would also like to feel Shanghai this way. I would take the lead to greet people and get to know more strangers in those streets that link past and present. Once my mind is opened up, I would relish opportunities to understand Shanghai and its people. Love helps people to understand each other, and understanding promotes love. The wider I open my mind to Shanghai, the better I would experience and understand it. I hope this World Expo, which will welcome guests from around the globe in 2010, will fully exhibit the beauty of Shanghai to the world. I'm looking forward to Shanghai's brilliant show to the world and to the future.

7) I hope that after World Expo 2010 Shanghai, the world will shift its attention to World Expo Yeosu 2012. This requires a bridge to link the two. I believe people skilled in Chinese and South Korean cultures will find themselves busier. In order to host a World Expo that makes a lasting impression on the world, one has to learn from the strong points of others. A countless number of people are devoting their enthusiasm and energy to that goal. I feel humbled before them. I hope I can make the best of my humble skills and experiences to enrich the meaning of the title "Image Ambassador of South Korea for World Expo 2010 Shanghai."

Thanks to people cherishing dreams and constantly striving to create, this world has become more beautiful. People who cherish their dreams like daily meals are those who keep progressing. It is these people who have used their hands to make this world more beautiful and wonderful. Now, people cherishing dreams are meticulously planning for the Word Expo in Shanghai and quietly working for the arrival of that special day in 2010. How happy I am to witness the great historic process with these people who are creating dreams!

I strongly believe that World Expo 2010 Shanghai will become a "land of opportunity" that will usher in a better tomorrow. I wish every success to World Expo 2010 Shanghai.

Lee An

Lee An is a South Korean pop singer. She was designated an image ambassador in South Korea by the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.


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