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The enthusiasts who are already part of the Expo dream

STEVE Dowler comes from the United States and is a senior student at Shanghai University. He is helping with Shanghai World Expo 2010 already - just like an IT worker for a major chemical company and a road sweeper from the Shanghai South Railway Station.

Dowler is a volunteer teacher for 30 policemen in the city's Luwan District. Three times a week, he teaches the policemen language and culture so that they can better serve the 3.5 million foreign visitors expected during the Expo next year.

The Expo organizer's official recruitment for volunteers for the 2010 world fair has yet to begin, but there are many people, from all walks of life and different nationalities who, like Dowler, are already working for the Shanghai event.

Dowler's lessons started in February when he was recruited as a volunteer by the operators of Shanghai Expo Exhibition Center on Huaihai Road M. This is one of the two major exhibition areas for the 2010 event in the city, the other being at the Expo headquarters in Pudong.

Although he has been working for only three months, he said his "students" have not only had few problems talking to foreigners in English, but also acted as professional consultants for foreign visitors on Expo tours.

His lessons are mostly based on an English textbook and an Expo knowledge handbook written by the Expo organizer. But during his classes which last for up to three hours, Steve will add extra details like discussing the designs of foreign Expo pavilions with his students.

"I like the job because all of my students seem to enjoy my lessons," he said.

Dowler will finish his studies in China and go back to the States next month, but he said he would take part in the organizer's recruitment drive which starts on May 1. "If I am recruited, I will return to China next May to work for the event."

The organizer plans to recruit about 70,000 volunteers to work inside the Expo site and another 100,000 to work at the 1,000 or so service centers around the city during the event. The criteria for volunteers is quite simple - they should be in good health, ready to work at least 14 days and agree to take part in training.

The organizer said it kept the criteria simple to let as many people as possible join as volunteers.

Gao Jiafeng, an IT engineer at Dow Chemical Co, said he would be a volunteer. These days as well as his 9-to-5 weekday work, the 26-year-old goes to the exhibition center every weekend to guide visitors.

He said he took the volunteer work in the center as a way of becoming an official volunteer for Shanghai Expo.

"I am fully prepared to be a volunteer to work on the Expo site and will apply as soon as recruitment begins," he said.

Sweeper volunteers

Forty-one-year-old Li Guihong has a quite different job from Gao. She is a road sweeper in the city's South Railway Station Square. But she has the same ambition as Gao - to be an Expo volunteer - and the same confidence.

Li is the leader of a sweeper volunteer team established two years ago, which was comprised of 80 female road sweepers from the square. During their rest times at noon, they carried luggage for the elderly and reminded people about good manners. Now, they have a new task - introducing basic Expo knowledge to passers-by.

The women, aged from 35 to 45, begin work at 6am every day, but all of them rise an hour earlier now to learn English. After their work ends at 5pm, they study English for another hour. Li said the team has been taking English lessons for nearly a year, and they can now speak simple English to give directions to foreigners.

Volunteers who work inside the Expo site will be used as information consultants, assistant receptionists, helpers for physically challenged people, event coordinators, assistant guides, interpreters, media coordinators and management assistants.

Li said she wants to be a receptionist or a guide. "But I would also be quite happy to be a sweeper in the Expo site."

Local university students are expected to make up the bulk of the volunteer team in 2010.

The organizer has set up application sites in the city's 53 universities, and the students are already enthusiastic.

The most famous non-official students' Expo volunteer group is the Expo promotion team from Shanghai University. Established last summer, the team has promoted the Expo to about 7,000 residents in 27 neighborhoods.

The team, of 150 undergraduate and postgraduate students, promotes Expo with an original Haibao dance, which was created by team members based on a cartoon video of the Expo mascot released early last year, said Yao Jia, a junior Financial School student at the university and leader of the team.

The university will offer complete support to any students who want to be Expo volunteers, said Zhu Jian, secretary of the Communist Youth League of the university. The university will let students adjust their schedules if their school hours conflict with volunteer work, he said.

The university does not need to push the students, because they already have a passion for volunteer work, Zhu said.

Recruitment and training will be finished in March next year.

Q: When will the application for volunteers start?

A: The recruitment starts from May 1 and runs through December 31 this year. The training courses will be finished in March next year.

Q: How many kinds of volunteers are the Expo organizer looking for?

A: About 70,000 volunteers will be recruited to work inside the Expo site and another 100,000 to staff the 1,000 or so service centers around the city during the event. Volunteers who work inside the Expo site will be information consultants, assistant receptionists, helpers for physically challenged people, event coordinators, assistant guides, interpreters, media coordinators and management assistants. Others will help with information consultation, translation, emergency assistance and in promoting good manners. People can apply to work both inside and outside the Expo site.

Q: What are the criteria for prospective volunteers?

A: Volunteers who work inside the site must be at least 18 years old, and those outside should be at least 16. There is no upper limit on age. Each volunteer must be available to work for at least 14 days (in total) during the Expo, which starts on May 1, 2010 and runs for 184 days. Volunteers must be in good health and agree to accept training.

Q: Can foreigners apply to be Expo volunteers?

A: Yes, but staff at the service centers need to be familiar with the city. Priority will be given to those who live in the city and can speak Mandarin.

Q: How do you apply to be a volunteer for Expo 2010?

A: Prospective volunteers can apply online at,,,, or or dial 962-010, the Expo hotline, from May 1. Some of the Website areas are not yet established. Applicants can also go to one of 19 official outlets in the city's 18 districts and Chongming County or at 53 universities. The organizer will hold a recruitment drive in front of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower on May 1, the one-year countdown to the event.

Q: Will the organizer pay accommodation and travel expenses for volunteers from abroad or from other provinces?

A: No. The organizer will only provide volunteers with insurance, uniforms, equipment and meals during the working periods.

Do you have a question about Shanghai Expo? You can chat with the Expo organizer at (click on the Hotline on the left side of the page).


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