Foreign students to deliver parcels during Spring Festival

An e-commerce platform says its program will give students the opportunity to experience the job and better enjoy the city's festive atmosphere.
Ti Gong

Mubanga Anthony Vwalika (right) and Mwiza Bellington Vwalika ride on motorcycles to deliver parcels for Suning.com near Zhongshan Park in Changning District.

An e-commerce platform is recruiting 80 foreign students to deliver parcels in Shanghai during the Spring Festival holiday.

Suning.com says its program will let students experience the courier service and enjoy the city's festive atmosphere during the holiday. Many of its deliverymen have gone back to their hometowns for the festival.

About 30 students from Zambia, Thailand, Cambodia and the Czech Republic have applied and have been trained in motorcycle riding, wrapping parcels and essential etiquette, Suning.com said

"The foreign couriers are required to send New Year greetings to customers in Shanghai dialect, and they have to understand the basic customs of the Spring Festival," an official said. The program is part of agreements signed by the platform with colleges, offering internships and social practice opportunities.

Twin brothers from Zambia were among the first batch of deliverymen who delivered parcels last week in a trial operation.

Mubanga Vwalika, a senior student at Shanghai Donghua University, and Mwiza Vwalika, who studies medicine at Capital Medical University in Beijing, can speak basic Mandarin after studying in China for two years.

"I chose to experience the job because I was curious to find out the whole process behind delivery of online shopping," said Mwiza. The brothers said they often bought clothes, electronic products and items related to football online.

"After the experience, I have huge respect for delivery companies now. I know how they handle the goods carefully so that they reach us in good condition," he added.

Ti Gong

Mwiza Vwalika (right) and Mubanga Vwalika tie parcels on their motorcycles. They are among 80 foreign students recruited by Suning.com to deliver parcels during the Spring Festival.

Mubanga Vwalika, the younger brother said he was quite amazed by the smiles on customers' faces when making the delivery. "It's obviously different to them compared to any normal delivery," he said.

There were also some challenges for them, however, such as the difficulty to find the exact location.

"There are so many streets in Shanghai and it is easy to make a wrong turn. And also riding with so many people on the road, while carrying a heavy load on your back, you have to be skilled and careful," he said.

"We have learnt how to greet people with Shanghai dialect and how to tie parcels properly," Mwiza Vwalika said. He have flown back to Beijing after they finished the job in the weeklong trial operation.

Many courier firms will operate with limited capacity during the Spring Festival holidays that start on Thursday, or the Chinese New Year Eve.

Major courier firms, including YTO, STO, Yunda and SF expresses have issued notices to customers, saying they would deployed deliverymen to work during the festival, but some delays might happen during the holiday.

Yunda Express increased the price by 10 yuan (US$1.6) for each parcel between February 14 and 20 due to the increase on labor forces and amount of parcels, the courier firm announced.

Ti Gong

Mwiza Vwalika sends a parcel of bedding to a local customer near the Zhongshan Park in Changning District. He is among 80 foreign students recruited by Suning.com to deliver parcels during the Spring Festival.

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