The Double Ninth Festival is a traditional holiday when families get together to celebrate. This year, I got to celebrate the festival by taking a trip to the Shanghai World Expo with 19 children and 7 teachers and mentors from the Changzhou Children’s Welfare & Social Welfare Institutes.
We got up early to take a bus to Shanghai. It was a bright October morning and we were all happy and grateful that Covington & Burling, an international law firm, and Half the Sky had worked together to arrange our trip. We had such a good time singing and taking photos that the two-hour bus ride passed by very quickly.
The moment we arrived in Shanghai, we got caught in the endless streams of vehicles. Bearing up against the lingering autumn heat, we walked to the Expo with our mentors and teachers. There we met up with two Half the Sky staffers and five more children–our excited group now totaled 33. We were so thrilled to be together at the Expo that we made sure to take lots of group photos.
After the photos, we started touring the Expo. First we enjoyed American culture–it felt really amazing to dine at the open-air terrace of the US Pavilion. At the suggestion of a local visitor, we poured out with a pen what we felt—awe, gratitude, and our hopes for the future.
After lunch, we went to the UK Pavilion, which impressed us with its original exterior: numerous slender transparent fiber optic rods, each encasing one or more seeds at its tip. To keep this awesome experience forever in our mind, we all sowed a seed of hope—we made a wish that next spring we could all meet again in the same place.
Our final destination was the South Korean Pavilion, a land of wonder and warm and helpful people.
All day we saw others waiting in long queues — we felt so lucky and grateful that thanks to our Expo hosts, Covington & Burling, we didn’t have to wait in those long queues—we felt like VIPs!
When it came time to leave, we were reluctant to go, even though the heat was intense—we were so enthusiastic about the Expo we didn’t care. We clutched our Expo souvenir badges in our hands knowing we would always keep the Expo’s wonders in our memories. Finally, we said our farewells to the new friends we had met in Shanghai and started home.
None of us had a traditional family to celebrate with on the Double Ninth Festival, but that day I knew that we were part of Half the Sky and Covington & Burling’s warm, big family. “We are proud and pleased to have been able to host these children at the Expo,” said Ellen Eliasoph, managing partner of Covington’s Beijing office and co-founder of the USA Pavilion. “We trust that their visit to the Expo will become one of their warmest and most cherished memories.” I know I will never forget the day we traveled to Shanghai for the first time and were welcomed as honored guests at the Shanghai World Expo.
DongMei is enrolled in Half the Sky's Youth Services program in Changzhou.