By Brittany Alexander, Student Ambassador at the USA Pavilion in Yeosu, South Korea.
Although we had a 10 day training period for World Expo 2012, it was not until the official soft opening that we got a taste of what running the USA Pavilion for hundreds of thousands of people to see would truly be like. We rotate positions on an hourly basis so that each of us gets to interact with visitors in different ways. The atmosphere around Yeosu is very open and friendly and everyone is enthusiastic about meeting new people. There are always so many interesting people to meet, especially in line as people wait to visit our pavilion. Already, many of us have made numerous international friends. Just the other day, I met a Korean man with whom I have so much in common — not only did we both study at Yonsei University in Seoul, but we were both also at the same university in Madrid, Spain. He spoke five different languages and we were able to carry on a conversation in Spanish!
Before this experience, I never thought I could have so many similarities with someone from a completely different culture and generation. These are the face-to –face interactions that help bridge our different backgrounds and that is what World Expo 2012 is all about. During the first week, we had visitors from various different countries tour the pavilion. During one shift, I got a history and culture lesson from a representative from the Lithuanian Pavilion and bonded with Spanish visitors.. There were several U.S. ex-patriots I met during my shift who gave me invaluable advice about places to see in Yeosu and about life in Korea as an American. The two most important things about each of these unique interactions are that we learn something from each other and that the visitors leave with a positive image of U.S. citizens.
If the first days are any indication of the rest of the Expo, then I have a lot to look forward to and these next few months will be just as, if not more, exciting.
This entry reflects the author’s personal judgments and does not represent the views of the United States Government or the Department of State.