Welcoming the World

Raquel in front of the USA Pavilion

Cervantes at the front entrance of the USA Pavilion

After graduating with a degree in the history of art and architecture last June, Raquel Cervantes (LAS ’15) embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. Below, she shares her thoughts on being a student ambassador at World Expo Milan, which attracted more than 20 million visitors from around the globe for a six-month exhibition featuring participants from more than 140 countries.

About a year ago, I received an email from one of my Italian professors about an Italian language opportunity. It was an opportunity to live in Milan for three and a half months and work as a student ambassador for the United States pavilion at the 2015 World Expo. I received the email shortly before the application was due, so I didn’t think I’d be able to complete it on time, but it was such an incredible opportunity that I refused to let it slip away. Here is my application video:

A few weeks later, I was shocked and elated when I received a phone call telling me I had been selected as a student ambassador. Even now that this experience is over, it still amazes me how lucky I was to be a part of something like this.

This World Expo’s main theme was “Feeding the World: Energy for Life.” Participating countries were invited to reflect on this theme and give their own interpretation of it by way of the design and content of their pavilions. The two main themes of the USA pavilion were “I am one in nine billion” and “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet.” The first theme points to the fact that by the year 2050, it is projected that the world’s population will surpass nine billion people. Our pavilion aimed to show visitors that each one of us is one of those nine billion, and thus we have a responsibility to find ways to provide food that is sustainable, available and healthy for all nine billion of us. The second theme of our pavilion, “American Food 2.0,” showcased a new version of American food, born from technologic innovation, as well as the diverse culinary influences from the various ethnic groups that make up our country.

Raquel with Ambassador Douglas Hickey, Commissioner General of the USA Pavilion

Cervantes (second from right) with Ambassador Douglas Hickey, commissioner general of the USA pavilion, and fellow student ambassadors

One of the best parts of my experience working in the USA pavilion was being among my fellow student ambassadors. We were a group of 120 students from all over the U.S., representing 95 different universities and 35 different states. We were fluent in 26 different languages! The first group worked May to July, and the second from August to October. I was a part of the second group, and I learned so much from my colleagues in the three months we spent together. We all came from different backgrounds and are going different places, but our group was knit together by the same passion and determination to leave a positive mark on the world in our own different ways. I made friends for life during this experience, and I can’t wait to see the great things that come from the people who were a part of this World Expo.

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