Emirati ambassadors were learning more about their country as they explained the UAE and its plans to visitors at the nation's pavilion at Expo Milano 2015.
"There were so many things I had no idea about that I learnt at the pavilion,” said Khalid Saad, a graduate of the College of Sciences at the University of Sharjah.
"The cube interactive installations spoke about how we can grow more food with less water, what happens if the oil and gas finishes, and how our ancestors lived with scarce food and water.”
Renewable energy projects involving the UAE were required reading for the volunteers.
"We started reading to find out on our own about solutions and how we can make solar energy work,” said Mr Saad.
"Few people knew that ‘shams' means Sun in Arabic. People wanted to know more about the Shams 1 project since they had heard about the amazing solar energy that can be secured.”
Shams 1 is a Masdar project located in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi and is one of the world's biggest solar energy plants.
The Milan Expo theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, links to the 2020 Dubai Expo's Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.
Through the installations visitors learnt how Shams 1 can power 20,000 homes and that scientists at Masdar are creating biofuels to power jet engines.
For Kalba resident Saleh Al Raeesi, who works with the Emirates Identity Authority in Fujairah, the experience was a life changer.
"I tell all my friends that they should volunteer because it builds skills,” he said.
"I speak to people of many nationalities who come to the office to get their identity card. Now, after the Milan Expo, I will have greater experience in dealing with them.”
It also served as a learning experience to prepare for the UAE's world fair in Dubai 2020.
"People also asked if we will be ready by 2020 and we say, ‘Of course, yes'.” he said.
"Milan is a good opportunity to see how we can make ours better.”
Emiratis aged between 20 and 35 were chosen to represent the country as volunteers.
"The aim is to help young people in the country become more engaged, more productive and more energised members of society,” said Maytha Al Habsi, chief programme officer at Emirates Foundation.
"People volunteer for many different reasons. It is a fun and rewarding way to get involved in meaningful projects. Applicants will learn new skills. We are always looking for new volunteers and welcome anyone with an interest in volunteering to get in touch with us.”
The foundation partnered the National Media Council in Expo Shanghai in 2010, Expo Yeosu in 2012 and collaborated with Habitat for Humanity in volunteering projects in Thailand, Jordan and the United States.
The experience has inspired some to take on leadership roles.
"The country has given us so much so now it is time for us to give back,” said Mr Saad.
"I want to go abroad and study hard for a Phd. I will come back and work in the clean energy field. I want to be a leader, I seriously believe I can give back.”
Source: The National