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Shanghai wants you

The Jiang family embodies the volunteer spirit Shanghai is famous for as the city rolls out the red carpet for World Expo 2010, writes Fei Lai.

Shanghai is bubbling over with World Expo 2010 enthusiasm judging by the number of applications to become a volunteer. Prospective volunteers have ranged from young middle school students to 80 year olds, from migrant workers to overseas students in China.

Yangpu District, taking full advantage of its university resources, launched its Expo volunteer recruitment drive at Siping Community's Culture Center on May 1.

Thirty registration stalls were crowded with students from Tongji University, local residents and those from other cities and provinces, as well as overseas friends.

A signature wall 20 meters long and 3.65 meters high was set up. More than 1,000 prospective volunteers signed their names and wrote their best wishes for a successful World Expo.

Among the applicants, Jiang Haizhou's family is special. Jiang, his parents-in-law and his wife submitted application forms.

The family has long participated in volunteer work, from small charity activities in the community to big events such as the Special Olympics in Shanghai.

"My father-in-law has always been a warm-hearted man," Jiang says. "He has engaged in a lot of community activities after he retired. He is 60 years old and is the head of the building we live in. As a representative of the building residents, he shows more concern to social affairs, which influences our family a lot.''

During the Special Olympics, the family invited eight Hong Kong football athletes to their home for dinner.

"I like watching and playing football. We talked about football with the athletes with the help of translators and the coach. Although they are mentally challenged, they do have a passion for sports and life," Jiang says.

"It is amazing that they have jobs such as selling shoes. They actually lead a normal life like everyone else. I admire them."

According to Jiang, there are several differences to being a volunteer at the Special Olympics and one at Expo 2010.

Since the Expo will last for six months, much longer than the Special Olympics, it is a test of volunteers' energy and persistence.

"World Expo is a window for the world to learn about China and a window for China to learn about the world through customs, culture, science and technology," Jiang says. "We need more locals to serve as guides to help visitors while they are in Shanghai."

During Jiang's enrollment at the University of Electric Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, more than 10 years ago, he started helping at charity events.

"At that time, I didn't think just work would help me fully develop. When I worked as a volunteer helping others, I felt like I matured," he says. "That's why I now encourage my son to be a volunteer at an early age. Although he can't be a volunteer for the World Expo as he is too young (11 years old), he can experience the atmosphere when our family applies to be volunteers."

Jiang currently owns a company dealing with international freight. Together with two partners, he encourages their employees to be World Expo volunteers as well. He says if any of his employees become Expo volunteers, the company will provide paid leave to show its support.

Jiang's family has been awarded the title of "The Family of Volunteers" on May 1 by the Yangpu government.

The district has established a volunteer station and several branches in its communities. People can apply to be a volunteer at any branch.

Last Monday, Lang Lilin, a 69-year-old man, traveled from Beijing to submit an Expo 2010 volunteer application.

Having been a volunteer at the 1990 Asia Games in Beijing, the 2008 Beijing Olympics and during the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake last year, he is now looking forward to devoting himself to Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

"During the Beijing Olympics, people from all over the country came to Beijing to serve as volunteers, asking for no return," Lang says. "The World Expo is another great event for China to display its charm to the world. Although I am not a Shanghai local, as a Chinese, I have the right and obligation to participate."

When Ren Yongkang, a 76-year-old retired worker, handed in his application form to the staff at Yangpu's volunteer recruitment station, the staff was deeply moved.

The old man couldn't wait to serve as an Expo volunteer.

"To me, it is important to become a volunteer at Expo 2010. Don't think I am too old either," he says. "Seniors usually have more life experience and more patience, which are advantages compared to young people."

The Yangpu government is now encouraging more people to apply as volunteers for World Expo 2010 and help showcase Shanghai's charm to the world.


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