Ask anyone who’s ever worked in a US Pavilion at a World’s Fair what the most effective part of a pavilion is and they will most likely say the Guides. We have always had the most engaging energetic young people interacting with our visitors at World’s Fairs. For many years we called them Guides. Then Nick Winslow, USA Pavilion President at Shanghai Expo 2010, came up with the term Student Ambassadors. That caught on and was used at Yeosu Expo 2012 as well. (One earlier variation was at Taejon Expo 93 where they were called Host Scholars. The 30 Host Scholars there received college credit for working at the US Pavilion.)
Photo at top: The Student Ambassadors of the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. Source: http://www.usapavilion2015.net/. From May to October 2015, 120 American college students are representing the United States as on-the-ground ambassadors for the USA Pavilion in Milan, Italy. They were selected from more than 1,000 applicants.
The US Student Ambassadors at Shanghai
At Shanghai 2010, the 160 Mandarin-fluent students selected as USA Pavilion Student Ambassadors came from 38 states and represented 84 US universities. They interacted with more than 43,000 visitors a day. They helped welcome Chinese President Hu Jintao, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, 10 U.S. state governors, and the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Five specialized teams were created, and each Student Ambassador spent 36 days of their three-month tour of duty on one of the teams. The Entertainment team helped manage the various shows and talents hosted by the pavilion on the pavilion stage and at other venues on the expo grounds. The Community Outreach team created outreach opportunities such as school restoration projects. The Communications team worked with journalists covering the pavilion and coordinated interviews with pavilion staff. The Protocol team worked on high level visits by dignitaries. The Sponsorship team worked with 65 corporate and state sponsors to plan events and help implement benefits packages.
The role of a Student Ambassador
So what do Student Ambassadors do? Just about everything. Meeting and greeting is one responsibility. The Student Ambassadors at Shanghai Expo 2010 greeted some 7 million visitors using their multilingual abilities, good humor and creativity to interact with the pavilion visitors. And speaking of language, all of our Student Ambassadors must be fluent in the native language of the host country. Many of the Chinese attending the Shanghai expo were impressed by the language proficiency of the US Student Ambassadors.
Student Ambassadors also make presentations in the various galleries of a pavilion. These are typically unscripted and allow them to create their own interpretations of the exhibitions and shows they are presenting. Another activity for them is working in the VIP lounge to assist VIP visitors, and to schedule and escort US Pavilion VIP visitors on tours of the expo site.
Office work is also often part of the job too, as many are proficient in computer technology and graphic design in addition to having good people skills. Community outreach can also be part of the package. At Shanghai 2010 and Yeosu 2012, the Student Ambassadors took part in activities in the communities around the expo site, such as visiting schools and hospitals.
US Student Ambassadors at Yeosu 2012
Chief Executive Officer of the US Pavilion at Yeosu Expo 2012, Andrew Snowhite, commented, “Our Student Ambassadors were the cornerstone of the Pavilion, engaging in every facet of the operation and experience. As the largest group of non-national Korean speakers at Expo they were widely and positively recognized around Yeosu as representatives of the strong partnership between the US and our friends and partners in Korea. For me personally, seeing them interact with the guests as well as building strong and lasting bonds together was one of the most rewarding aspects of the project.”
The Yeosu Student Ambassadors came from 19 states and the District of Columbia. They served from May through August 2012. They received one college credit for their work and participated in a course entitled “Making Culture Visible While Studying Abroad.”
Related stories from InPark Magazine:
Setting up the program
For the Registered World’s Fairs – the larger, 6-month fairs that are scheduled every five years – usually two teams of Student Ambassadors are hired, each working three months. There have been expos, however, where the same group continued for the duration. For the Recognized World’s Fairs – the smaller, 3-month fairs that take place between the Registered Fairs, the same crew works the entire expo.
In general, the practice is for a US Pavilion to work directly with one or more universities to set up its Student Ambassador program. This included the University of Tennessee for Knoxville 1982, Michigan State University for Taejon Expo 93, Lisbon Expo 98, and Aichi Expo 2005; the University of Southern California for Shanghai Expo 2010 and the University of Virginia for Yeosu Expo 2012. There were two instances where recruitment took place through office temp firms – LeGals for New Orleans Expo 84 and Drake International for Vancouver Expo 86. In the case of Tsukuba Expo 85, the US pavilion staff traveled around the US interviewing potential Guides for direct hire.
Interest for these positions runs very high. For the US Pavilion at Vancouver Expo 86 there were 500 applicants for 38 positions; for Yeosu Expo 2012, there were 200 applicants for 40 positions.
Whether they are called Guides or Host Scholars or Student Ambassadors these young people are the heart and soul of every US Pavilion. They are our face to the millions of visitors that attend the Expos. And they are truly ambassadors: For many international pavilion guests, it may be their first opportunity to meet and engage in direct conversation with an American. This was especially the case at Shanghai 2010.
As US Student Ambassador Dana D’Amelio, working at Yeosu stated, “The Student Ambassador experience was a lens through which I was able to see Korea from an entirely new perspective and it left me utterly convinced that public diplomacy is a critical part of building enduring relationships with our global partners. I am honored to have played a role, however, small, in the US diplomatic mission at the Yeosu World Expo.”
This person-to-person diplomacy has carried the US message to over ten million visitors to our pavilions at Aichi 2005, Shanghai 2010 and Yeosu 2012 and I am sure will continue to do so in the future as we look forward to Milan Expo 2015 and beyond.
James Ogul’s next column will look at the role of the Commissioner General on a world expo pavilion.
In the matter of organizing a world’s fair pavilion, James Ogul is a top human resource. At such times as the United States has stepped up to participate in a world expo, from the early ‘80s to the present more often than not Ogul has been tapped to help coordinate the effort on the government side. Since retiring from the US State Department in 2011, he has remained connected to the international expo scene in an advisory and consulting role.
Comments Off on What will it mean to postpone Expo 2020 Dubai until 2021?
Comments Off on The U.S. could be a no-show at Expo 2020 Dubai
Comments Off on Expo 2020 Dubai Update
Comments Off on Five rules for a successful Expo pavilion
Oct 22, 2020 Comments Off on Freetouch BYOD technology helps museums and attractions keep interactives in play
Oct 22, 2020 Comments Off on In a virtual format, TEA Thea Awards Digital Case Studies showcase best of human experience
Oct 21, 2020 Comments Off on Universal Beijing Resort shares new details on themed lands
Oct 20, 2020 Comments Off on InfoComm opens Call for Presenters, timeline for presentations extends beyond 2021 show
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on Christine Kerr: From operations to creative to entrepreneurAfter nearly two decades at BaAM, Christine recently made...
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Alterface: Inside Action League, the interactive revolutionUnique mix of tournament, interactive gaming and motion
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Vekoma: Forged in steel, tempered by imaginationVekoma opens two new intertwining roller coasters in
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Anna Knight of Informa Markets discusses the 2020 Festival of Licensing and the attractions industryThe Festival of Licensing, is a month-long virtual...
Sep 24, 2020 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Three key players talk about Crayola’s new interactive exhibit and the brand’s expanded LBE presenceThis tour represents the next step in a portfolio of LBEs...
Sep 02, 2020 Comments Off on Smaller attractions: Following the leaderHow smaller attractions stay competitive and innovative...
Aug 19, 2020 Comments Off on Nathan Jones: Continuing a journey of amazing attractionsFollowing a long track record at both WhiteWater and...
Jun 30, 2020 Comments Off on Right place, write timeHollywood screenwriter Bennett Yellin authors a new future...
May 18, 2020 Comments Off on Eleventh Hour: The rise of consultants since COVID-19 affords a vision of leadership for the Location Based and Themed Entertainment Industry.To help companies respond to industry-specific challenges,...
May 05, 2020 Comments Off on Inside the time machineCreative Principals’ Geoff Thatcher says now is the...
Apr 22, 2020 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: International participants in Dubai Expo 2020 share thoughts on the likely one-year postponement and the status of their pavilionsLeaders of several national pavilions being developed for...
Apr 03, 2020 Comments Off on Bingo Tso, ACE International, on the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on Asian companies and the attractions marketBingo Tso of ACE International shares his perspective from...
Mar 17, 2020 Comments Off on COVID-19: Reassurances from Beijing and Kelly Ryner (Thinkwell)"As for business here in China, there is a lot of positive...
Dec 25, 2019 Comments Off on California’s Great America WinterFest: Transforming a theme park into a holiday wonderland.With millions of lights and thousands of decorations, the...
Nov 16, 2019 Comments Off on #80 – IAAPA 2019Table of contents
Nov 15, 2019 Comments Off on Meet Amanda ThompsonIAAPA’s incoming chair has deep roots in the attractions...
Nov 15, 2019 Comments Off on TEA 2020A chat with Michael Blau - incoming TEA International Board...
Nov 14, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA 2019 Chair David Rosenberg: The aqua-manRosenberg serves as the 2019 Chair of the IAAPA Board of...
Nov 14, 2019 Comments Off on CircusTrix CEO Fernando Eiroa: Leaps and boundsInPark spoke with Eiroa about the unique business of...
Nov 09, 2019 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Interviews with Jeremy Railton and Scott Ault on the launch of their new company, Railton Entertainment Design (RED)Themed entertainment design veterans Jeremy Railton and...
Oct 22, 2019 Comments Off on ISE 2020The annual Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) trade show for...
Oct 21, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA: “Wear comfortable shoes!”"If this is your first Expo, attend the First Time...
Sep 11, 2019 Comments Off on Netflix and thrill: Greg Lombardo joins the content streaming powerhouse as Head of ExperiencesLombardo brings with him more than a decade experience in...
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Transitions: Leaps and boundsIndustry professionals are making moves and creating waves
Sep 09, 2019 Comments Off on Exploring IAAPA EuropeMeet recent additions to IAAPA’s European team
Oct 06, 2020 Comments Off on WhiteWater: Planning for 2021
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on #83 – Waterparks and more!
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on The InPark Magazine editors: Meet the press Part 2
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on EXP: Engineering the aquarium
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on DNP: Photo booth serendipity
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on Polin: I can see clearly now
Sep 29, 2020 Comments Off on Christine Kerr: From operations to creative to entrepreneur
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Alterface: Inside Action League, the interactive revolution
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Vekoma: Forged in steel, tempered by imagination
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on Theme park storytelling
Sep 28, 2020 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Anna Knight of Informa Markets discusses the 2020 Festival of Licensing and the attractions industry
Aug 19, 2020 Comments Off on Nathan Jones: Continuing a journey of amazing attractions