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February 1, 2016

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Shanghai honors expats who make a difference

TEN expats who have made contributions to the city were honoured at the 2015 Shanghai International Excellence Award Ceremony held at K11 over the weekend.

It’s the second international excellence award jointly launched by Shanghai Daily and the International Channel Shanghai (ICS). Present at Saturday’s ceremony were foreign diplomats, city government officials and many others.

After a month-long vote in which over 10 million online ballots were cast, 10 expats were selected from the 30-plus candidates, including business leaders, community event organizers, charity activists and opinion leaders.

The 10 winners include Birendra Kumar Sah, a Nepalese surgeon at Ruijin Hospital; Daniela Anahi Bessia, a singer and TV performer from Argentina; Detlef Britzke, a German businessman who has raised awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding; John Cucinello, an American community service leader who runs a Saturday volunteer program for underprivileged youngsters; Joshua David Freund, a Canadian English teacher who prevented a person from commiting suicide; Jurgen Sterkau, a German hotel manager who helps orphans; Luca Biagini, an Italian businessman who helps strengthen intercultural bonds between China and Italy, and supports local universities; Sean Pang, a Singaporean consultant who helps the homeless; Valerie Brown, an American consulate official who set up a group for women; and William Koetting, an American architect who has made great contributions to the cityscape.

“Our ten winners who are here today represent different sectors including healthcare, education, hospitality, trade, architecture and charity,” said Wang Lijun, the executive director of ICS. “I would like to give a big thank you to all of them for helping us build a better city.”

Xia Ruirui, the deputy editor-in-chief of Shanghai Daily, expressed appreciation for all the winners at the ceremony. “I feel that everyone here is committed to keeping Shanghai strong, friendly and beautiful. Thank you all for such wonderful work and I’m really proud of all of you and your work, and the city is also honored to have all of you here.”

Award winner Detlef Britzke told Shanghai Daily that he was very excited and stressed that the award was not just for him. “I’m obviously feeling excited because I’ve had so many voters. And I don’t see that as a personal success, I see that as a success for our company, Medela, because the whole campaign we did was really to create awareness of breastfeeding,” Britzke said.

William Koetting, the architect who designed Shanghai Film Museum, the Shanghai Xinhua News Building and the Zhongshan Park Elevated Walkway, and is now working for Walt Disney Imagineering on the New Shanghai Disneyland, has been in Shanghai for 7 years, said: “There are 24 million people in Shanghai and several hundred thousand of those are expats. Typically when the expats come to a big city, they feel they are small and they cannot really make a difference.

However, each individual expat I met here that has won this award, has made a difference. Although we didn’t know each other before, now we’re like a family and that will help us better serve the community. It is nice to know that other people are doing the same thing that you’re trying to do, but in different ways!”

He said the most important thing to him now is giving back to the community, which has given so much to him.

Dr Birendra Kumar Sah, who arrived in Shanghai in 1999, said: “I have been living here for 17 years. I like the city. At the very beginning, I was in Henan Province and after I came here, I decided that I must study in this city.

“Then no matter where I go, I am always thinking that I should go back home. And my home is Shanghai.”

“And here I met my wife,” he added with a smile. “When I’m working, I totally concentrate on my work, but at home, I value family life as the most important.”


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