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Volunteers to welcome world

MORE than 50,000 people signed up to serve as volunteers at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo as the one-year countdown to the event began yesterday.

Seventy-two registration sites were in operation around the city drawing 20,000 applicants, and another 31,000 signed up online, while the Expo organizers' hotline lit up with more than 1,000 calls.

The main site at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong featured singers and dancers and drew large crowds of people celebrating the start of the countdown. At least 500 would-be volunteers signed up there.

Shanghai Party Chief Yu Zhensheng, speaking at a national countdown ceremony in Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, said volunteering was "a key opportunity for young people to develop themselves and a platform to showcase local youth."

In fact, a 17-year-old Shanghai senior high school student was the first applicant.

Lu Ruiyi, who lives in Pudong near the Expo site, said she felt lucky not only because she was the first in line but also because she would be 18 next year, the minimum age for volunteers. She wants to be an information consultant.

About 70,000 volunteers will be recruited to work on the Expo grounds and another 100,000 for the 1,000 or so service centers that will be set up around the city during the event, which is expected to attract 70 million visitors. Volunteers will be required to work for at least 14 consecutive days during next year's event, which runs from May 1 to October 30.

The oldest applicant at the square in front of the Pearl Tower was 68-year-old Sun Xinyi. The retired math teacher has been teaching himself English for more than a year so he can serve as an interpreter at the Expo.

He reads English textbooks and listens to foreign radio for four hours every day. "I have no problem talking in English now," he said.

Among the others was Gu Jiamin, a 51-year-old who suffers from severe myopia. He is classified as visually disabled but arrived at the volunteer drive with a raft of certificates, including some from when he helped at the 2007 Special Olympics in Shanghai. "I am disabled myself so I know how to take care of the physically challenged," Gu said.

The organizers are recruiting physically challenged volunteers who have language skills or other abilities.

Would-be volunteers can still sign by visiting any of 19 venues around the city as well as at 53 universities. They can also apply online at,,,, and, or dial 962010, the Expo hotline. English service is available.

The deadline for applications is December 31, and training will be completed in March.

Also yesterday, Suzhou in Jiangsu Province launched six travel routes in and around the famed garden city for Expo visitors who want to explore outside Shanghai. The routes are part of the 44 Expo theme tourist itineraries planned in 16 cities of the Yangtze River Delta region.


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