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    September 20

  • 07:06 AM

VIEW FROM SHANGHAI – Home away from home

Sharon Marshall,

Added 12 October 2010

patsymills

I’ve been here in Shanghai just under one week, and I’ve moved house already. I haven’t moved far though: from Building 7 to 5 at the Expo Jin Jiang Apartment Hotel into the apartment allocated to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).   This is where the five CDB colleagues who preceded me lived while they were on assignment here, managing the bank’s booth at the Shanghai World Expo 2010. In this apartment, Clairvair Squires cooked Bajan soup and set off the smoke alarm.   Anne Bramble vacated the apartment on Saturday to head back home; so I moved in on Sunday from my interim accommodation.   My new home is comfortable, but not luxurious. It’s a one-bedroom suite, with living room, bathroom and a kitchenette. It also comes equipped with a washer/dryer machine; so I don’t even have a legitimate excuse for not doing the laundry.   Expo Jin Jiang, comprised of seven separate tower blocks, is one of several recently constructed buildings erected in the Expo Village to house official participants.   It’s so new that virtually no one knows where it is, if they could access it. When venturing out of the Expo Village, you have to give the taxi driver the address of the more established hotel just in front of the security checkpoint at the perimeter fence of the Village in order to reach home. In the Expo Village, there’s a range of accommodation: deluxe hotel, service apartment, standard apartment, economy hotel. The economy hotels were handed over in May 2008, while the other types of accommodation were brought into use in the first quarter of 2010. The Expo Village covers an area of approximately 86 acres (or 35 hectares), with a total construction area of 540 000 square metres. It was designed to accommodate 10 000 people at the same time. But think “city” rather than “village”.    The scale is massive, especially for us island people.  There’re convenience stores, shops and restaurants within a radius of one kilometre. There’s also a clinic, beauty salon, fitness centre, bank, post office, laundry; in short, all of the modern urban conveniences. The Village is relatively near the Expo Park. In fact, through the high-rise buildings I get a glimpse of the imposing China Pavilion from my hotel window. Walking there would be a challenge though. The Village is located 1.2 miles (or two kilometres) from the main entrance to the Expo Park.   Shuttle buses run between the Village and the Park all day, and are free to official participants. We simply have to show our passes to get priority access.   After that, it’s a walk of approximately ten to 15 minutes through the Expo Park for me to get to work at the CARICOM Pavilion. This arrangement affords me more exercise than I’d normally get back home driving my car to work, and it’s better for the environment too.   So even though I’m thousands of miles away from home and my regular workplace, there’s still the routine of just another day at the office.   There’s no pudding and souse on Friday, or Sunday baked chicken and coconut water. No physical contact with the people who make up my intimate circle. But for these four weeks in Shanghai, the Expo Jin Jiang Apartment Hotel is my home away from home. ***** Dominican pride Patsy Ladies and gentlemen, meet Patricia Mills, or Patsy, as everyone calls her. This young lady from Portsmouth, Dominica, has been helping out at the Dominica booth in the CARICOM Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010. She’s had two stints, so far. Patsy has been studying in China for the past six years. She completed a first degree in accounting, and has just embarked on a Master’s in international business at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.                                                                                                                                                          All of her instruction was conducted in Mandarin; so she now has a good command of the language – reading, writing and speaking. This has come in handy for the Expo.  She says: “I have friends in Shanghai, so I just decided that I would come and help out the country.”                                                                             Patsy gets to go home to Dominica once a year. She says: “Before I came to China I basically made up my mind that I was coming here to study and I wouldn’t let anything come between me and my studies. I communicate with my family on a regular basis, so there’s nothing much I’m missing from home, maybe except the food.”  She says: “I’m looking forward to going back to Dominica and seeing how I can help out my country and the Caribbean as a whole. In terms of relations, I don’t think it should be country-China, but I think that if we’re united as CARICOM-China we might have a stronger voice.” But for now, Patsy’s just proud to be able to represent her country at the Shanghai World Expo. •Sharon Marshall is Information Officer of the Caribbean Development Bank.

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