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Shanghai Expo Different 100 Days after Opening

2010. 9 August

Ambassador Jose H. Villarreal (L), commissioner-general of the USA Pavilion, poses for a photo with CRI reporter Yang Yang in Shanghai on August 4, 2010. [Photo: Courtesy of Katherine Cheng from USA Pavilion]

( August 8, 2010, marks the 100-day anniversary of the Shanghai Expo. The expo site, located in a cosmopolitan city, has welcomed over 37 million visitors, with the daily number of visitor exceeding 350,000 before 5 p.m.

While some are focusing on the numbers, I am more excited about the improvements in the Expo site in various aspects, including the quality of the audience, the services and so on.

As a reporter covering the Shanghai Expo for the second time, I didn't feel much excitement when I entered the Expo Site again. What impressed me most were the changes that have taken place since my first visit in May.

The greatest change is the weather - the temperature in Shanghai in August is about 38 degrees Celsius. Not long after I landed in China's largest economic hub on the first day of August I got heatstroke. Thanks to my colleague's medicine, I recovered from the dizziness and sweating. But even hot weather doesn't diminish the passion of the visitors, and the queues outside the pavilions are even longer than before. From the curiosity in the children's eyes and the patience of international visitors in the long queue outside the pavilions, I can tell how eager Chinese people are to learn about the world and the world about China.

More international visitors can be seen in the pavilions and more visitors really take the time to stop by and appreciate the exhibitions prepared by the participants. When I first visited the Expo Site, many pavilion employees complained that the visitors just came to their pavilion to get a stamp on the Expo passport and didn't even take time to see what was being shown in the pavilion. Some pavilions even stopped providing stamps.

But the visitors I met this time were more concerned about the educational function of the Shanghai Expo. A woman who declined to reveal her name accompanied her son to visit the USA Pavilion and she said even though the USA Pavilion is not the best-decorated, the spirit it represents is very impressive.

"If it was not for my son I wouldn't have come to Shanghai in such hot weather. The Expo provides a good opportunity for young people to enrich knowledge. The story of how the little girl overcoming difficulties to realize her dream is very touching and the information it conveys is very help for young people."

The services in the Expo site have improved a lot and the shuttle bus drivers are more patient than before. I am familiar with the route so I seldom ask directions from the bus drivers. But whenever I see the visitors and ask them where to stop, they will kindly tell me with great patience. The volunteers are always the cutest people in the site and whenever I see people in green, I feel very happy and comfortable, even in very bad weather. The smile on their face is the best cooler from the sun!

Revisiting some of my old friends in the pavilions that I have interviewed, I found their responses from the past 100 days are all very positive. The USA Pavilion has just transitioned from the first group of student ambassadors to the second. Ambassador Jose H. Villarreal, commissioner general of the USA Pavilion, said things are going much more smoothly with the help of the Chinese government.

"I must say that the Chinese authorities have been exceedingly accommodating to us and we've worked very well with everyone to work out some of the early challenges we faced in terms of bringing visitors through, and I am proud to say that I have already visited the China Pavilion six times and I like to joke that pretty soon I'll be able to conduct a tour myself. So all and all it is very positive experience."

Entering the Taiwan Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo Site for the first time, everyone can feel like a VIP since only a limited number of visitors are allowed to into the pavilion each time. Walter Yeh, president of the Taiwan Pavilion, said his Pavilion has made great improvements to provide better service to the visitors.

"We tried various measures to reduce the time that visitors need to wait. We adopted a booking system twice a day and the visitors can come at the time they booked. This method has been warmly welcomed so we will continue to implement it."

The Taiwan Pavilion has also thought of many other ways to facilitate visitors, such as providing guidance and explanation services in each section from the beginning to the end so that each visitor gets a thorough understanding of the pavilion.

Not only the pavilions themselves but also the Shanghai Expo organizers have made all efforts to ensure the epic event is smooth and successful. I feel greatly honored to witness the achievements of everyone involved in the event. I believe that many years from now, when we tell our children or grandchildren that we went to the Shanghai Expo, we will be truly proud from the bottom of our hearts.