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March 12, 2010

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At 74, full of vigor for Expo

Hou Qingshan, 74, has become the oldest volunteer leader of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

The retired Shanghainese used to be a diplomat in Sweden and has a good command of two foreign languages - English and Swedish.

"I want to make some contribution to the great event held in my hometown," he said.

He's working at the Expo despite his family's initial opposition. They were concerned about his health.

As a volunteer leader, Hou will have to work at the Expo site for nine consecutive months to help the organizers register and train other volunteers and to provide some logistical services.

The Expo volunteer-leader team consists of more than 220 members, most of them young people under 30.

The first batch of Expo volunteers, they started their work on Wednesday and have to keep at it until the end of the event.

"I believe I can persist," Hou said. "It may be the only chance for such a great event to be held in my hometown in the rest of my life. The experience will be a very precious memory for me."

Hou's insistence finally moved others. But he says he's aware of his limits and won't force himself if his health doesn't sustain him for the job.

The former diplomat said he wished to visit the Sweden Pavilion and chat with others in Swedish, which he has not used for a long time.

A graduate of Beijing Foreign Studies University, Hou worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and traveled to 25 countries.

He has looked forward to the Expo since Shanghai won the bid eight years ago for the event.

"Working as an on-site vol-unteer is the best way to participate in the Expo," he said.


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