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Luke Mohr - USA Pavilion Student Ambassador

USA Pavilion Student Ambassador from Washington State University, now serving at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo
June 15, 2010

Fudan and QiFu adventure                                                         April 18, 2010

Today, I, along with Sophie and Patricia (SAs), decided to walk around the Fudan University area. We rode the metro relatively early in the day and ended up walking around until late. We ate many snacks, bought cheap books, headphones, and even Fudan U. sweatshirts. I was excited about my news books. All I need now is some quiet time to sit down and read...

The next day was another adventure but this time it was to the cheap market area-- Qipu Road. If one wants to purchase cheap casual clothing, accessories, movies, and snacks, this is the place to go in Shanghai. However, one must go prepared to bargain hard for good prices. Furthermore, for “laowai’s” 老外 like myself (Westerner/foreigner), you need to have patience because every seller will come running up to you selling anything you can think of, and I do mean anything. Going to this market is one time where I wish I could just blend in with the Chinese. Standing out like a tall White beacon in a market can be annoying.

The size of Qipu area is amazing. Mall-sized buildings completely filled with shops selling a wide range of items, and this doesn’t even include the street stalls. I didn’t end up buying anything that day besides food, but I knew I would be back for some cheap T-shirts because I only brought two with me to China. Did I bring too little? Perhaps, but I was impressed with myself for the fact that I only checked one luggage--a personal best.

Training                                                                                     April 13-16, 2010

This week included a series of presentations by USAP department managers and representatives. Although presentations can get old, it was nice to be able to meet all the departmental managers to get a feel for the working atmosphere we will be in soon.

One day was dedicated to the sponsorship department and we SAs were paired up and assigned two companies. Liberty and I were partnered up to present about Motorola 摩托罗拉 and Wrigley’s 绿箭. Our presentation went well despite the fact that I stalled up at one point because I was missing some details I felt compelled to bring up. Everyone’s attitudes were good and there was constant laughter throughout all the presentations so I didn’t stress too much about our presentation and my mishap. In fact, I laughed so much that day from others’ presentations that during one in particular I teared up. Some SAs were trying to be serious, others not so much but it didn’t matter because they were hilarious regardless of whether or not they were trying to be.

Fisher, one of the SAs, happened to have planned a KTV outing for his birthday party and it couldn’t have been timed better. A week of presentations had taken its toll on us and we needed to let loose. I unfortunately arrived late because I waited for some fellow SAs to finish preparing for their sponsor presentations but I was glad to have at least made the last half. It was a good night of (attempted) singing that included cake cutting and birthday wishes. Everyone’s spirits were high and hopefully they would remain so throughout our term here.

Arrival at Expo Village                                                                 April 11, 2010

Well, we arrived in Shanghai, China. It was a long trip but it was nice to finally be on the ground. After we all grabbed our luggage and made our way through the airport, we were greeted by Hans and other people involved with the USA Pavilion. We student ambassadors were always in contact with Hans but this was the first time we could match a face with a name. I must say, I was expecting a big German guy for some reason when I kept hearing the name Hans von Meister. I had no idea that Hans was actually half German and half Chinese--pretty cool. Anyways, we all packed into a shuttle bus and waited for other SAs that were supposed to be on their way. We ended up waiting over an hour for people who missed their plane or dropped out of the program at the last minute. At last, we were bound for our home for the next 3.5 months, the Expo Village.

It was nighttime so it was hard to gauge exactly where we were going. By time we made it to the Village it seemed like we were not in China anymore. We were in some kind of secluded ‘island’ and the bustling China we all knew from before was certainly not here. We have arrived in a ghost town and what made it a bit creepier was that it was dark and hazy (pollution?) so we couldn’t even see our surroundings very well.
Once we arrived we were instructed to quickly move into our apartments and meet at New York Style Pizza--some pizza joint owned by an American Expat. I thought it was amusing that our first meal in China for the Expo would be pizza, but when it’s all on-the-house who could complain. The pizza was good but very different from what I’ve been accustomed to. It was super soft and the crust was not stiff at all. The pizza had to be rolled in order to eat it. Perhaps this is indeed “New York style”--I wouldn’t know it if it was, I’ve never been. In addition, we met some of our USAP managers there so it was nice to get started with the introductions. I’m sure it will take weeks until we all know each others’ names though. So many new faces.

Journey to the Middle Kingdom                                                April 10, 2010

My journey to China for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo begins today, starting from Spokane, WA-- a small city usually unheard of outside of Washington State despite it being the second largest city in Washington. I have been to China back in the fall of 2008 for about nine months so I have no feelings of nervousness, only excitement. Having the privilege to travel back to Mainland China is a gift by itself, but going there to represent the US at the USA Pavilion for the World Expo is beyond me. It is true I am only a student, just like the other “Student Ambassadors” flying in from all around the US, but the positive influence we students can have on the Chinese people and other foreigners coming through our pavilion is more powerful than a speech made by an American official on TV, for we student ambassadors will interact with some of the poorest and richest of the Chinese and likely make a lasting impression, especially so since we may be the first and only Americans they will ever meet. It is because of this fact that I do not feel like a mere student, but instead a young American ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.

And the journey begins...

Today I had to ride the 6-hour Greyhound bus from Spokane to Seattle. Apparently American Airlines does not offer flights from Spokane to Seattle and since AA is one of our sponsors (and the one providing all our flights) I can only fly AA. I knew I would end up being exhausted since this 6 hour bus trip would add more time to my total travel time to China. I must admit I was surprised that I was not reimbursed for the Greyhound to Seattle especially when others were able to have flexible flight arrangements and even complimentary hotel stays. All is well though because I wouldn’t be going to China in the first place if it were not for the USA Pavilion, the USC Student Ambassadors program, and our sponsors. I am grateful.

11:55pm, American Airlines flight to Chicago.
The late flight turned out to be rather nice since it gave me a chance to catch up on sleep, or so I thought. The flight to Chicago was surprisingly short (maybe 4 hours) and I felt dazed and confused from a day of travel and sleep deprivation... and I haven’t even left the US yet! I arrived in Chicago early morning (around 5‘ism am) and grabbed some McDonald’s breakfast and took it back to the terminal I needed to wait at. It was there that I met two guys who turned out to be Student Ambassadors just like myself-- Dan and Charles from Michigan. After we ate, we noticed a group of students to our side waiting at a different terminal. They were either Chinese students flying back to China or Chinese Americans who are SAs as well. We assumed they too were SAs and moved over, Dan being the first to introduce us all. After seeing this large group and interacting with, I instantly knew this would be the start of many new friendships in our new mission of working for the USA Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.