Volunteers work in the shadows for success of prestigious trade event


Thousands of volunteers have helped with the hosting of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai in the past two years.

A volunteer answers a visitor's queries during the third CIIE in Shanghai. [Photo/Xinhua]

With this past experience in hand, 110 students who previously volunteered at the expo were selected to become trainers for this year's new batch of volunteers.

Hailing from 40 universities in Shanghai, the new trainers shared their skills with 4,844 new volunteers before the expo started, according to Chen Liudong from the volunteer center of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the training was delivered via online courses. The trainers recorded 93 videos that contained content such as their past experience, an introduction of the expo, pavilion guidance, and duties of each position.

Gu Hang, an undergraduate in Arabic studies from Shanghai International Studies University, had volunteered at the previous two editions of the expo, greeting international delegates during the event. This year, he taught his successors how to do the same.

To make the course more practical, Gu relied on simulation-based learning, designing guided scenarios and teaching volunteers ways of handling such situations.

"I've designed complicated situations regarding customer service. For example, some delegations need shuttle buses, some are elderly people or the disabled, and some have distinct religious beliefs and eating habits," he said.

"Although the actual situation might not be as complex during the expo period, I believe it is important that volunteers are prepared for such circumstances."

Gu added he happened to meet practitioners in foreign affairs at the expo and was motivated to start a career in the industry.

"Volunteering at the CIIE is a skills-enriching experience that adds value to my life socially and professionally. I have shared this with volunteers to encourage them as well," he said.

Niu Hong, a postgraduate in law from Tongji University, volunteered at the second CIIE last year. He said he was disappointed that he could not volunteer this year as he had to take an exam during the expo period. However, he is glad that he is able to lend a hand by helping train new volunteers.

Niu was responsible for the installation and adjustment of an indoor navigation system provided by Tongji University at the expo last year. To set up the system, he and his team members started work at the venue a month before the commencement of the expo. Each member of the team took over 20,000 steps a day across each pavilion to ensure that the system was working properly.

"I can still remember the scenes when the team worked together and helped each other. This is the value of volunteering, which I have shared with new volunteers," he said.

"I'm excited that my stories can help new volunteers better understand their responsibilities and guide them to overcome difficulties."

Niu's sentiment was echoed by Zhang Mingquan, a postgraduate in ideological and political education from East China Normal University. Zhang said she was delighted to meet people and work toward a common goal in a teamwork setting.

"I remember there was one night when our team took a bus from the exhibition center back to the university last year. We told jokes, sang songs and chatted on the bus, despite being exhausted from days of volunteering. This experience is all about teamwork and friendship," Zhang said.

Source: China Daily


East China Normal University