Related News

Home » Metro

The enthusiasts who will open their doors to strangers

VISITORS to the Shanghai Expo next year can enjoy a special treat and one that few get to experience. Some of the city's senior residents will invite visitors from overseas to their homes to give them a taste of life here. Yang Jian looks along the longtang (alleyway)

Ye Huizhen is aged 66 and lives alone in her 20-square-meter home. The house is not large °?- just a sitting room and a bedroom. It is the traditional Shanghai longtang (alleyway) style, even older than Ye, being built in the 1930s.

Entering her home, people can hear the mottled wooden floorboards creak and absorb the pleasant smell of the rosewood furniture. An old-style electric fan hangs from the ceiling - just like the ones seen in movies about old Shanghai. A sewing machine sits silently in a corner, once a popular item in every household but now a rarity in most homes.

It is an ordinary Shanghai home, smaller and older than some, but the home and Ye now have a special task °?- to welcome foreign visitors of the 2010 Shanghai Expo.

Shanghai's downtown Jing'an Temple Subdistrict in Jing'an District has selected 35 ordinary Shanghainese volunteer families to welcome foreign Expo visitors. Most of the families are retired people aged about 65. During the Expo from May 1 next year, the seniors will invite foreign visitors to their homes to let them experience Shanghai life.

These families will be natural "pavilions" outside the Expo site, directly showcasing Shanghai culture.

According to the community's "Expo family" plan, foreign guests will be invited to one of these homes in the morning. The hosts will take them to nearby Jing'an Park for their morning exercises and then to the market for food. Then they will cook and have lunch together.

In the afternoon, they will teach the guests how to make dumplings and speak Shanghai dialect. They will also take them to watch Shanghai's longtang games, such as hoop rolling and shuttlecock kicking.

Young local volunteers, most high school students, will act as interpreters.

It will cost foreign visitors 100 yuan (US$14.62) to stay with a family for one day, 30 yuan if they just want to have tea with their hosts, and 20 yuan for a tour of lanes and historic houses. Individuals and groups can book by telephone.

Most of the host family members are retired people because they have enough spare time to look after Expo guests, said Cheng Jing, Party secretary of the Associations of the Elderly of the community, the organizer of the project. They also have authentic Shanghai lifestyles, she said.

Ye said she thought the project will make her lonely life rich and colorful. "I am quite looking forward to the Expo."

Ye's neighbors, an older couple, are also going to be a host family. The husband Gao Yunxi is a veteran and his wife, Xu Baodi, is a retired elementary school teacher.

The couple looked after overseas visitors during the 2007 Special Olympics.

They seemed a little nervous at first when interviewed, but when they talked about their foreign guests, the two old people tried to out-talk each other.

"Foreigners like to eat light food and always ask that we don't add gourmet powder. When they eat red-cooked pork, they only eat the lean meat and leave the fat. Boiled shrimp is not popular, because they feel it is difficult to skin," Xu said, scarcely drawing breath.

She said she has also prepared a menu for foreign visitors, especially those from Europe, based on her experiences in the Special Olympics. It includes pork braised with soy sauce, fried chicken, smoked fish, and scrambled eggs with tomatoes.

She said her pork never failed to impress foreign guests during the Special Olympics.

The community plans to recruit about 100 host families for the Expo, Cheng said. The guests could also include children from other provinces.

Huangpu District's Bansongyuan Subdistrict, which is near the entrance to the Expo site, has said it plans to recruit 1,000 families to host foreign guests. The Shanghai Office of the National Scheme for Scientific Literacy has also chosen 53 families, most of them living close to the Expo site, to take in foreign guests.

About 3.5 million foreigners are expected to visit the 184-day Expo.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend