What’s it like to work the Expo at one of the busiest pavilions? We asked several USA Pavilion staff to record a diary of their day during Golden Week during what we expected to be one of the busiest weeks. (It didn’t turn out quite so. The numbers for that week were actually lower than usual, probably due to the ticket price mark up for the public holiday…much to the relief of all Expo staff.) Melissa Monnier is a student ambassador from Hamline university who works with the Operations team. Here’s a peek into her day.
Wake up. Pull on my uniform. Get ready, go.
The golden sun of “golden week” shines on me as I head out the door of my apartment. Before I hop on the staff bus, I must say good-morning to my favorite security guard and get checked out to make sure I’m not bringing anything funny into the expo today. Thankfully, the cucumbers I stowed in my bag for a mid-morning snack pass the inspection. Every time I hop on the staff bus, I’m reminded of the complexity and vibrancy of the round ball we all call home. I find a seat in-between a serious-looking Chilean man and a beautiful Kazakhstani woman, and soon we are off! The USAP is the last stop on the round-the-world bus tour. I arrive there with five minutes to spare. Just before 9 o’clock and the morning tide of people come in to the USAP. I make it to my first post.
The first two months of my internship at the Expo was spent working in VIP Operations and the Community Outreach Team, so these past few days have been my first experience working with the crowds of guests that visit the main floor of the pavilion every day. I still have a lot to learn. Such as remembering to hit the “Start Show” button when the show first opens.
“Hey Mel! Would you start the show ASAP please?” my coworker Charlotte calls to me over the radio. ”
Whoopsy! That’s important. “Oops, Sorry!” I radio back and hit the big green button.
Soon the first-comers to the USAP arrive at Act 3, where I am stationed. Deep breath, and action! “Good Morning Everyone! Welcome to the U.S.A. Pavilion, Act 3!”
Break. It’s mid-morning break time. I say good-morning to a few guests as I head up to the break room for a quick check of my email. I sit down at the staff computer next to Er Luo, one of my favorite security guards. He’s busy chatting on “QQ” the Chinese version instant messenger.
“Hey!” I say, “Friend me on QQ!”
“You have QQ?” he asks, suprised.
“Yeah,” I say, “We gotta keep in touch.”
After a quick check of my email, I grab a quick cup of coffee and head down to hang out with some guests who are anxiously waiting to be let into the pavilion.
The U.S.A.P. line is over two hours long and the expo is full of people, but everyone seems to be in the best of moods. I hear the Dance America dancers jamming over at the USAP stage, and take my place at my next rotation: turnstiles.
I have a hard time imagining I will ever find a more entertaining job than this one. For the next 45 minute work shift, my job is to hang out at the front of the USAP and dance to music, joke with the guests, greet everyone as the enter the pavilion, and best of all: play with all the cute kids waiting in line and hold lots of cute babies for a photo op.
I see a four-year old little boy who can’t hold it any longer pull down his little pants, and before I can stop him, begin to water one of the trees outside the expo entrance. No wonder the trees stay so green and healthy. I check in on some old men playing a quick game of cards to pass the queue time. “Good afternoon! Happy National Day!” I greet the guests as the turnstiles open and they can finally enter into the pavilion. I can only hope their experience at the USAP will prove to be well worth the long wait.
“Overture” is the part of the USAP where a Student Ambassador introduces the pavilion and themselves. Here, we as student ambassadors have the spotlight, the pressure, and the pleasure of giving a first impression of the pavilion and setting the tone for the pavilion experience as we greet over 500 guests every fifteen minutes. My Kindergarten Christmas Pageant butterflies come back to haunt me as I stand on the chair with the microphone in my hand. I take a deep breath as I watch the auditorium fill up with excited and expectant guests. It’s just me and them. Here it goes:
“Good morning, everyone! Please come in! Welcome to the American Pavilion!” I say in my accented Chinese. Thankfully Chinese people have a custom of being unwaveringly gracious to foreigners. This crowd seems to appreciate my efforts in speaking Chinese as much as I appreciate their patience and kindness in listening to my foreign sounding accent.
After introducing the opening movie and myself, I have a few minutes to sing a Chinese song and tell a joke. My singing is barely tolerable, but my sincerity seems to win them over, and I thankfully get smiles and clapping. Then it’s time for the trademark USAP joke: “什么马尼不能骑 (What horse can’t you ride?)”…”OBAMA!” This play on words always brings lots of laughs.
As the opening movie plays, I sit down in my chair. Instead of watching the movie, I like to watch the crowds. It’s good to see them laughing and enjoying their time at the expo. It’s a good feeling to be a positive part of their experience here at the USAP.
God Bless America, China too. That’s my day during Golden Week.