Chen Yanwen receives an autographed rugby ball from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. [Provided to China Daily]
Essay-winning history teacher enjoys some VIP treatment inside the Expo Garden, Wu Yiyao reports.
Chen Yanwen has been treated like a VIP inside the Expo Garden this summer since the 29-year-old from Suzhou, Jiangsu province won an online essay-writing competition organized by the New Zealand Tourist Board.
She received an autographed rugby ball from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, skipped the line at the Switzerland Pavilion, and was invited to celebrate Australia's national pavilion day during her subsequent three visits to the Expo.
She also won a free trip to New Zealand.
"All it takes is the passion to get involved," said Chen, a history teacher. "I like browsing cultural and tourism websites, and if I see any essay competitions, I always give it a shot."
Chen logged onto the official website of the New Zealand Tourist Board earlier this year, when she was planning a trip to the country. The homepage included a note calling for essays describing New Zealand's top destinations. Chen gave it a go, and won.
Her success has also had an impact on her family. They used to complain that she spent too much time on such hopeless dreams. Now they are more supportive and understand her passion for writing, she said.
"The best part is the feeling of vindication, and knowing that my writing has been acknowledged and appreciated," she said.
Chen said Expo 2010 Shanghai has broadened her horizons.
"I've visited the Expo Garden about 10 times. Before I go, I always spend at least a day browsing background information on the pavilions and exhibits.
"One time I decided to organize a trip focusing on discovering different wines, so I went to the pavilions of Chile, France and Spain to taste and shop the best of their wines," she said.
During this summer's FIFA World Cup, she visited the pavilions of five-time winners Brazil and 2010 tournament host South Africa.
Although she has won VIP passes to some pavilions, Chen still has to queue most of the time. It took her four hours to get inside the United Arab Emirates Pavilion, but she said it was worth the wait.
"I didn't mind, because I saw the UAE's efforts to seek a sustainable future," she said. "I think the CEOs of big enterprises that use a lot of resources should pay a visit. Maybe they could learn something."
(China Daily 10/15/2010)