International students are among over 5,700 volunteers at the expo
The China International Import Expo volunteers light up the scene with their bright smiles, passion and determination.
They are known as "little leaves" after the venue, the clover-shaped National Exhibition and Convention Center.
This year, 5,725 students from 42 universities, institutions and schools are volunteering their time at the expo. Of these, 15 are international students, and roughly 10 percent have volunteered at previous expos.
According to the Shanghai Youth League, they provide a variety of voluntary services on 134 posts, including on-the-spot guidance and consultation, guest contact and reception, exhibition registration and management, news releases, transportation, statistics, medical treatment, and emergency rescue assistance.
Foreign volunteers, many of whom are from "Belt and Road" countries, are bolstering the expo's international exchange and cooperation ideas.
Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud, a Somalian student at Donghua University, assists the Media Center as a translator.
He translates into four languages: Somali, English, Arabic and Chinese.
"I applied to this event to gain more experience and knowledge. I wanted to be part of this mind-blowing event, to come together with new friends from all over the world and exchange adventure and proficiency," he told Shanghai Daily.
He keeps himself occupied in the media center and assists others with his professional and sincere service. As the team leader of foreign student volunteers, he is also in charge of coordinating and making other arrangements.
"I'm very happy to help others and to be part of this event," he added. "I found excitement, and I'm very grateful for this project."
"I'll definitely apply again as long as I can," he said.
Umeokwuegbu Chinemerem Nora Nneamaka is a Nigerian student at Shanghai International Studies University.
"I am very willing to be a volunteer for CIIE and provide considerate service and help to exhibitors and audiences as support for the 'Belt and Road Initiative,'" she said.
"CIIE is a platform to learn about China, and I hope to help more people learn about China through the event and deepen friendship between China and other countries," she said.
Zawar Shah, a Pakistani student from Donghua University, is volunteering at the event for the first time.
"It's awesome and honorable for me to attend such an event because it's my first time," he said.
"If Pakistani people come to China, I will be able to help them," he said. "In the future, when I graduate, I hope to start my own business here."
"The volunteer spirit involves a lot, from kindness to social responsibility, and it is a meaningful experience for me," he added.
On November 7, a group birthday party for 107 "little leaves" was organized at the venue, complete with colorful balloons and a birthday song.
They sliced the cake with delight and excitement while wearing birthday hats.
It is an annual ritual to celebrate volunteers' birthdays in the "home of little leaves," the CIIE volunteers' base.
Tian Xi, a volunteer from Shanghai Customs College, was born on November 8th.
Her job is shooting vlogs at the expo.
"I walk 20,000 steps daily, but I feel very happy to be part of the event," Tian said.
She began her volunteer training on October 28.
"It is my first time at the event, and I found it an amazing showcase of different countries," she said.
"It was a very delightful experience when we sang a birthday song and celebrated the moment together. It is a memorable experience, and I will treasure it."
For the first time, eight students from local high schools have become the expo's youngest power.
"I feel a strong sense of duty when I stand on the post, and I hope to promote the expo's cultural exchange and display the optimistic and positive spirit of Shanghai's young generation to guests from home and abroad," said Li Yicheng, a Shanghai Xiangming High School student.
According to volunteers, the exhibition is a valuable event that provides a rare learning opportunity.
Shanghai Maritime University has 120 volunteers at the expo, with 50 of them leaving their dormitories in the Lingang area as early as 3am on the first day.
They learned etiquette, communication skills, and emergency response, and they completed many patrols at the center prior to the event to provide mapping services.
Yuan Ximin is a reserve volunteer. He assumed responsibility after another volunteer was ruled out with an injury.
"The expo is a rare opportunity for our growth, and the young generation should rise to the challenge," he said.
According to the Shanghai Youth League, over the past five years, around 25,000 "little leaves" have served at the expo, earning widespread acclaim from both domestic and international visitors.
"Little leaves" demonstrate the volunteer spirit of dedication, brotherhood, mutual support, and advancement and have made significant contributions to the expo's success, according to the statement.