Junior William Feng received the Best Volunteer Award at this year's China International Import Expo (CIIE) in November. CIIE, the world's first import-themed, national-level expo, aims to support economic globalization and actively open markets, offering a platform for companies around the world to exhibit their products.
"CIIE is held in Shanghai every autumn when normally I am in the United States and can’t participate," said Feng, who is distance learning this semester due to the pandemic. "Even though I hadn’t experienced it myself, I still heard a lot of information and stories about it. Due to COVID-19, I am unable to return to the United States this time, so I was looking for opportunities in China in the fervent hope of making contributions to my community."
Feng applied on CIIE's website in early September and went through several rounds of interviews before being selected in October. He then participated in volunteer training.
"We introduced visitors to information about he expo and provided directions and transportation information when necessary," he explained. "If they had any questions, we helped them out. When we met foreign visitors (about 40% of those who attended), we also offered language assistance."
During the five days of service, Feng estimates he helped more than 200 visitors from different regions and countries.
"I encountered some common questions that we had prepared for as well as questions I didn’t have immediate answers to," he said. "When it came to situations like that, I would lead the visitor to a staff member who might help them figure out solutions. One situation that remains fresh in my mind is when people didn’t know that the expo had a reservation system, so when they came, they actually did not have the opportunity to buy tickets. All visitors had made their reservations online and received their entry pass one week before the expo. We explained this reservation system, presented a few advanced products via photos and information, and handed them souvenirs to make them feel worthy of this trip. Through these precious volunteer experiences, I felt the joy of communication, the warmth of a smile, and the contentment of solving difficult problems."
Feng said he enjoys volunteering and helping others, and while he most likely will not be able to volunteer at CIIE next fall because he hopes to be back on campus at Darlington for his senior year, he says he will be looking for other opportunities to serve in the United States.
"I will strive for more possibilities in America in the future because I believe that if there is a passion to serve others, opportunities can be found everywhere," he said. "Serving my community is a precious experience to grow and improve myself. At Darlington, I also took an active role in volunteering. Many of these experiences, such as the Night to Shine Prom for peopel with special needs, left deep impressions on me. Darlington’s school motto says 'service beyond self,' and it is Darlington and its community that brought me the initial happiness of being a volunteer and inspires me to keep insisting on the passion of volunteering."
William is the son of Su Zhang and Jiong Feng of Shanghai.