Rising to the challenge at the US Pavilion

By Wang Qian
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, June 18, 2010
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Before the opening of the Shanghai World Expo, some people worried the United States would have to miss the Expo due to difficulties raising money for the pavilion.

Although the US Pavilion was one of the last Expo pavilions to be constructed, it ultimately opened its doors on time. The tenacity of the US effort to be represented at the Shanghai Expo accords with the pavilion's theme, "Rising to the Challenge." The theme is impressively and emotionally conveyed through the pavilion's multidimensional audio-visual experience.

On average, about 35,000 people have visited the pavilion each day since its opening. They have received warm greetings from 168 mandarin-speaking student ambassadors at the pavilion. The ambassadors were selected from colleges and universities across the United States. Some can even speak Shanghai dialect.

Rising to the challenge at the US Pavilion

Jaclyn Smith and Jacob Parker, two of the US Pavilion's 168 mandarin-speaking student ambassadors [Wang Qian/china.org.cn]
The pavilion's core exhibit comprises three short films, which together present "the fun-loving, friendly and warm" nature of Americans as well as display the American spirit of perseverance, innovation, and community-building.

Many Chinese are amazed to see video images of Americans – including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and ordinary people on the street – expressing greetings in Chinese to Expo visitors. Audiences often applaud and cheer as they watch an American woman, selected randomly on a street in the U.S., finally say in correct Chinese "Welcome to the US Pavilion," after having valiantly tried and failed over 10 times to say the phrase correctly.

Rising to the challenge at the US Pavilion

José H. Villarreal, the United States Commissioner General to the Shanghai Expo, speaking at Hawaii Day at the US Pavilion [Ren Long/EXPO Weekly] 
During an interview with china.org.cn in Shanghai, José H. Villarreal, the United States Commissioner General to the Shanghai Expo, talked about the highlights of the US Pavilion and what the U.S. hopes to achieve through its participation at the Expo.

China.org.cn: What's the most interesting part of the US Pavilion, in your opinion?

José H. Villarreal: First of all, various elements of the programs appeal in different ways to different people because there are so many different age groups and people of varied educational levels among the visitors.

The first film is quite humorous; people get a lot of chuckles out of it. There is a segment where you have ordinary Americans from all walks of life, like firemen, airline pilots, school teachers, shrimp fishermen or just people on the street. All are trying to speak Chinese. It is really funny. I think people enjoy that. People enjoy the messages from President Obama. Everybody is a little surprised. He offers a very warm message. The segment presents a lot of the thinking and imagination that is going on in America, and goes along with the theme of the pavilion.

The Garden, from what I can tell, especially appeals to children. [Editor's note: The Garden is a 4-D film without dialogue that tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who works with her neighbors to turn a vacant city lot into an urban oasis.] The film has all of the special 4-D elements like vibrating seats, mist and lightning. I can see elderly people lift their umbrellas when the mist begins to fall, which is quite interesting.

Rising to the challenge at the US Pavilion

The Garden, a 4-D film without dialogue, tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who works with her neighbors to transform a vacant city lot into an urban oasis [Chen Xiaowei/ EXPO Weekly]
I think the story resonates with people. I have heard some people have been touched by the film and have tears welling up in their eyes. So it just strikes different people differently. People who are more emotional will like it more than others perhaps. You are not going to get the same reaction from everybody; but on the whole, we've been very pleased with the reaction we have received from visitors.

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