Bringing Beijing volunteerism to the Shanghai Expo
10 May 2010
Among them is UNV volunteer Fiammetta Mancini, who works as Partnerships Coordinator with the Beijing Volunteer Federation (BVF). Fluent in Chinese, she is one of only a handful of foreign national volunteers assisting at the Shanghai Expo, which began on 1 May 2010.
The Shanghai Expo 2010 is perhaps the largest international fair ever held. More than 190 countries are represented and the city expects 70-100 million visitors over the Expo's six month duration. Volunteers, who will guide visitors and perform various security and administrative tasks, are therefore crucial to its success.
Ms. Mancini worked with the Beijing Volunteer Federation on the Expo's opening 'Beijing week', which was attended by high level officials from China and the rest of the world.
"Our training in Beijing was quite intensive, interesting and comprehensive," says Ms. Mancini, "and covered not only an introduction of the Expo event and the Beijing Pavilion but also volunteer spirit and volunteerism in China, the culture and customs of Beijing and China, assistance for people with disabilities, first aid, fire prevention and rescue essentials."
At the Beijing Pavilion, Ms. Mancini greeted incoming visitors and helped with visitor flow management, making sure that people did not cram into the main hall and that the elderly, disabled and parents carrying children could enter without having to queue. She also provided information and helped out with pictures as needed.
While on duty, Ms. Mancini was interviewed by a number of media, including Beijing TV and Shanghai Dragon TV, contributing to the visibility of the Beijing Volunteers at the Expo.
"As a UNV volunteer cooperating with BVF to improve volunteer management capacity in China, it was interesting for me to work with the other volunteers from Beijing and Shanghai and learn about their motivation and interests," she says. "I found that many of them are eager to volunteer beyond large-scale events, and by talking to them about her project activities and volunteerism for development I raised their interest and encouraged them to continue volunteering their time and skills after the Expo."
The Shanghai Expo volunteers inherit the legacy of 2008 and the 'Strengthening volunteerism for development through the 2008 Beijing Olympic games' project. UNV also contributed to the Shanghai volunteers' training, explains UNV Programme Officer Henny Ngu.
"Our main message was the importance of harnessing volunteerism for development long after the Olympics," she continues, "for example through the Green Olympics campaign to promote environmental awareness and sustainable lifestyles. Two years later, we still have ongoing volunteer activities whereby trained university volunteers go to primary schools and carry out activities on how to protect the environment. Working with former Olympic volunteers, we also have pilot volunteer initiatives to support vulnerable groups, migrant children, the elderly and the disabled. This is the Olympics legacy that we would like to pass on to the Shanghai Expo."
About 72,000 volunteers will work within the Expo site itself, while another 100,000 will staff more than 1,000 service centres around the city. Perhaps 2 million volunteers will work as civic volunteers around Shanghai during the six-month Expo.