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March 20, 2010

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Expo volunteers train in first aid, people skills, helping disabled

FU Zhaoyun, 24, has no regrets that she won't see much of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai. Instead she will be working at an Expo volunteer station outside the site, one of 1,095 such service stations around the city.

If she passes an exam (she is awaiting results), Fu will manage a station staffed with as many as five volunteers, aided by a computer. They will be a one-stop shop, handling translation, direction, medical emergencies, traffic mishaps, help to people with disabilities, safeguarding security and generally solving problems.

Fu, a university graduate from Chongqing Municipality, will be among 120,000 volunteers at these Expo stations around Shanghai, working from April 15 to October 31 when the six-month event ends.

She applied in Yangpu District where 10,000 people have applied to volunteer.

The Expo site itself will deploy 77,000 volunteers.

Expo volunteer stations are scattered about the central business district and high traffic areas off the site.

The station's computer is linked with an online service platform that will be used to help with tasks such as translation.

"It doesn't bother me at all that I won't be able to visit the Expo -- I'm already part of it," Fu says.

On a trip to Shanghai last year, she learned about the need for Expo volunteers and signed up. She was just out of university.

"I immediately decided to take the national postgraduate examination and my goal is to be admitted to a Shanghai university," says Fu. "All I want is to participate in the Expo. Missing it would be so sad."

After graduation, Fu went to Shanghai to prepare for the exam and to apply to become an Expo volunteer station master. She is awaiting her exam results.

"Even if I fail the exam, I could still be a volunteer," she says. "My family supports me and is proud of me."

She hopes to bring them to Shanghai after the Expo ends -- some pavilions will be permanent, such as the China Pavilion, Theme Pavilion and some regional pavilions.

Fu is one of 10 station master candidates in Yangpu District. Early this month they attended a training camp that featured simulated events requiring quick thinking, team work and organizational ability.

In the simulations, they handled traffic accidents, complaints from visitors, first aid, inquiries and services for people with disabilities. They learned to identify typical national costumes of Scotland, Mongolia, India, Mexico, Japan and Spain.

"Detail matters. As volunteers, we provide part of the Expo experience," says Shi Xuefei, one of the station master candidates. "The training camp helps us improve our service and we will spare no efforts to serve the Expo and the visitors."

Candidate Lu Yaohua works at local residents' committee. He was nicknamed "Expo Encyclopedia" at the end of the training camp because he had fast answers to all the questions in Expo quizzes. After being accepted as a candidate, Lu hit the books and studied everything about the Expo, including previous Expos.

"As station master candidates, we will serve not only Expo visitors, but also volunteer teams," Lu says. "Expo knowledge will improve my work."

Lu has been volunteering for almost 10 years. In his community he fixes bicycles and keys, repairs shoes and umbrellas and cuts hair for the elderly.

At the end of January, almost 10,000 people had applied to be Expo volunteers in Yangpu District. Most of them are around 30 and those who speak second languages, such as English, Japanese, Russian, German and Spanish were eager to volunteer.

Of those 10,000 in Yangpu, 500 will be selected to work inside the Expo site and around 1,000 will work at stations across the city.

Shi Weijun, a returned overseas student from Paris, is eager to volunteer.

"Paris is my second home and it has a lot in common with Shanghai, such as a mother river and landmark tower," says Shi who lived in Paris for three years. "I love the Eiffel Tower that was revealed to the world at the 1889 World Expo in Paris. Today, Shanghai has the same chance to make the Oriental Pearl Tower an unforgettable landmark."

Shi says passion alone won't make a good volunteer. It takes personality, communications skills and good command of a foreign language, he says.

Becoming an Expo volunteer was the new year's resolution of Mao Pingkai, a retired computer teacher in the district.

The 50-year-old is already an active volunteer, teaching basic computer skills to seniors as well as simple English.

She is now studying Expo English and jogs every day to keep fit.


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