Expo 2017: the World in My Backyard

The world awaits just across the street.

For months, I could see the Expo grounds from the window of our apartment. Finally, in July, I went to see it all in person and now that I’ve started going, I cannot seem to stop. In fact, I’ve been too busy going that I haven’t had time to write about it! There is also too much to say that I simply cannot write one post (so be prepared for more!).

The Expo has become my new happy place! It’s everything I love about the world and none of the bad (yes, it’s appealing to the idealist in me). Each participating country has its own pavilion or shares a pavilion with other countries from the same region (e.g. Pacific Islands, Latin America). While some exhibits emphasize on the Expo theme of “Future Energy,” others focus more on introducing the world to their culture, food, art, music, dance, and creativity. Some pavilions sell goods from their country, others have cafes or full restaurants, and some have bars featuring their native beers or cocktails. It’s almost impossible to not hear or see a performance of some sort while walking around. Each visit offers something new.

I think I’ve been about six times now (I bought a multiple entry pass so I can go once a day for the entire season!), spending anywhere from an entire day walking around to just a few hours. I still haven’t seen everything yet! The quality of the pavilions has been a surprise too. Some larger countries, from whom I’d expect a great presentation, have been disappointing, whereas other smaller countries really put a lot of thought, effort, and creativity into their pavilions and have been a delightful surprise. The exterior designs of some draw you in, but may disappoint, while others that look rather plain are incredibly charming inside. Nothing is predictable, which makes it all very exciting! (I’m still trying to determine my favorites. It’s a natural inclination even though the point of the Expo is to bring people together to highlight how each of us can make a positive change for the future of our planet, not necessarily to compete.)

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The best part about the Expo so far has been meeting so many incredible people. Some of the pavilions have representatives from the actual country guiding groups through, while others rely on Kazakhstani interpreters. I’ve gotten to know some of the guides quite well and they are warm, friendly people who are eager to share why they are proud of their homeland to those who will/can listen. As I am one of the few native English-speaking visitors, many seem happy to practice their English with me. Everyone I’ve met seems to share a similar appreciation for what is happening at Expo. Nationalities don’t matter, we are all here to learn about each other and experience this welcome respite of unity and togetherness in an often chaotic world.

Expo demonstrates that, despite our superficial differences, underneath we are all human and want similar things from life (health, safety, connection).

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