DePaul students greet NATO dignitaries at O'Hare Airport
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
With angry protestors, fear-stricken civilians, cops dressed in full riot gear, it seems that NATO has brought out the worst in Chicago. And you know what they say about first impressions.
But thanks to the NATO volunteers, Chicago’s image is not to be tarnished. Numbering in the hundreds, volunteers have been working hard through the weekend to offer NATO summit delegates a warm Chicago welcome. From offering friendly greetings to answering questions, volunteers were doing their best to represent Chicago well.
The welcome wagon doesn’t stop at the delegates, though. Volunteers are paying special attention to reporters who traveled to Chicago to cover the NATO summit. Aware of the international spotlight shining on Chicago, volunteers did their best to showcase the culture and opportunities rife in Chicago.
Volunteers manned the terminals at O’Hare International Airport until Monday afternoon. Most of the volunteers were composed of college students and retirees.
DePaul senior Alyssa Rovansek used her volunteer experience as a culturally enriching experience. “It’s a good way to meet people, especially from other countries,” she told ABC Chicago. “I love learning about other countries and even the volunteers here today are from other countries.”
While some volunteers interacted with the delegates themselves, others were responsible for directing the media. “I worked mostly with the press,” DePaul freshman Sean Witry said. “I just kind of directed them where they needed to go to get their credentials.”
Besides providing a necessary service to travelers, the volunteers were able to experience the cultural gravity of NATO. Witry, for example, interacted with reporters from other countries, including Afghanistan, France and Portugal. “It was definitely interesting to see who was there and what they were doing here,” he said.
Provoking hometown pride and aiding unfamiliar travelers, volunteers showed that there is more to NATO than protests and rallies.
Whether it’s a friendly hello or directions to The Bean, travelers will leave knowing what truly makes Chicago so great—the people.