2nd Session Ambassadors, 2nd Ranked?

I hate to be controversial, however, I can't help but feel that us second session ambassadors are being put on the back burner.  We found out this morning that the US-China institute has shaved a week off of our expo experience, for reasons unknown.  We are not being housed in the Expo Village until the first week of August when we begin our positions.  Ergo, we have little or minimal interaction with the first session ambassadors.  It is possible that there just isn't any room for us in the Expo Village, but that being said, disorganization seems to be a key factor in this chaotic mess. Also, we are unable to discuss with the first session ambassadors what their opinion of their experiences are!

Not only have I written an innumerable amount of urgent e-mails to the operations manger in Shanghai for my expense-covered plane ticket to Shanghai, I encountered several e-mails stating I needed to "be more patient".  It's almost June, and my flight is July 4th...I still don't have a Chinese visa.  My parents have had visas to China for 2 months already and are flying out of the US after me. This is wrong! Anyhow, I am sure we will have no problems getting visas because it is signed off by the US government, but I can't help but feel bothered by the disorganization.  Perhaps being an event planner has forced me to realize that things can't be slapped together last minute.

On a side note, the first session ambassadors met Hilary Clinton. Okay, now I'm super jealous.  First, Chinese president Hu Jintao...now, US Secretary of State.  If nobody special comes from August to November, I think I'm going to flip.  Not only have they truncated our expo experience, we don't meet anyone of significance either? Obama, I beg of you to visit end of August!

Really, I have nothing to complain about.  I have been granted an opportunity of which many were denied, but as in life..."if you give a mouse a cookie, he'll ask for a glass of milk".  Too true. All I can be is honest.  This is my honest opinion - I am appreciative, but I want the cookie, a glass of milk and perhaps a straw.

Bad news is, my Egypt trip has been cancelled, and for good reason. I am going to graduate school and need the $15,000! Yes, you heard that right! I am attending Monterery Institute of International Studies for a Master's in International Management in January 2011.  I will also be participating in a 2 year volunteer stint with the Peace Corps (PC) too as part of the Master's program after my initial 2 semesters. While my aspiration was to return to China, I have found out that PC only sends teacher volunteers to China, so if I want to stay in Asia, it will be either Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia or Mongolia - in Business Development or something of that related aspect.  However, the PC may utilize my French speaking abilities and ship me off to Africa. I have to expect the worst and/or have little to no expectations - life of a Peace Corps volunteer!

The security office behind Office of Admissions at Monterey Institute-
 John Steinbeck's shed where he wrote "The Pearl". 

While I have my doubts about my near future endeavors, I know to brush them aside.  Even though "if everything works out and life is long", as Rachel Maddow says, my youth is short and I should accomplish as much as my young body can. Graduate early, check. Enjoy the chaotic life of New York City, check check.  Shanghai World Expo, check! Trekking through the back roads of Indochina, check. Ship off to wherever Peace Corps will take me? Chhh...eck.

No Fun under the Shanghai Sun, yet.

This post is completely from an American standpoint of the World Expo opening ceremony, literally! Counter to what many of you believe, I am still in New York! The Shanghai Expo started 3 days ago on the riverbank of the Pudong district, and  I sadly watched the grandiose opening ceremony from my work computer, scrambling to find headphones that worked. I could only catch the last hour since I definitely did not wake up early enough, and I had to get ready for work. So, at 9AM (9PM Shanghai time) I watched the last part of the ceremony- gawking at the multitude of fireworks, and apparently the world's largest LED screen, plus the most number of high-powered lasers in one place at the same time. China never fails to impress.

Just to clarify for everyone, I am a second session ambassador, meaning I do not start training until the halfway point of the Expo, which is July 16th. Until then, I will continue interning here in New York going through another crazy conference, but will also have time to vacation with my family in the beginning of July. I will be headed to Hong Kong for the first time, but will also show my parents around Yunnan, southern most province of China.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to suffer from heat exhaustion, as the last time I visited Yunnan was last April, and it was already 90+ degrees. I can only imagine what it will feel like in the middle of summer...

How I wish I were in Shanghai now. I am looking at a lot of the first session student ambassadors' photos and am so jealous that they met President Hu (the president of China), the Consul General at a BBQ at the American Consulate, and had a video conference with Hilary Clinton! I'm not too sure that the second session students ambassadors will have as much exposure to such VIPs, considering that closing ceremonies are rarely as high-status. All I can do is sigh, and appreciate that I am even able to go.

However, I am not sure that the return to Shanghai will be as I expect.  Much of the news has covered stories regarding the downfall of Shanghai nightlife, which is making it even harder for me. I know that by the time that I reach Shanghai, most of what I am used to will be on high-security alert. I already know that the street vendors will not be surrounding my living quarters, Chengdu Lu + Nanjing Xi Lu's market will probably be on lock down, and now clubs are being raided and closed! Shanghai's obsession with face value is causing an unhappy evolution to many of its old visitors. I yearned to go back because of its mesh of culture; I absolutely love street food and the "fake" markets; on the flip-side if I wanted the western culture, I would go to Xintiandi, which was rare for me. Now, everything will be like Xintiandi and the expatriate area. I will probably have to traverse far out of the central districts to find my beloved hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

All of this is assumption, I will have to let you know when I finally arrive back in the homeland. That's it for now. I'm just a sad American longing to be transported back to Shanghai.

Here are some photos: the only view into Shanghai that I currently have.

Photo courtesy of nico3d
The largest LED screen in the world!
Flags of 189 nations and 57 international organizations.
Photo courtesy of plasmastik