Calling all APEC volunteers!

Published: Aug. 22, 2011 at 7:38 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 22, 2011 at 10:55 PM HST
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Hi'ilani Shibata
Hi'ilani Shibata
Cybil Rawlins
Cybil Rawlins
Noelani Schilling-Wheeler
Noelani Schilling-Wheeler

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Calling all volunteers!

APEC - the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation - summit is less than three months away, and volunteers have been attending prep sessions in everything from hospitality to Hawaiian culture. In our continuing, countdown coverage of APEC, we see what goes into training these new recruits.

Sitting in a classroom at Windward Community College, the recruits are starting with the basics – in a boot camp, of sorts.

A Hawaiian language instructor strums a simple tune on the ukulele – while the volunteers sing a song similar to one you'd hear at a Hawaiian preschool. Simple, basic, but to the point.

Hawaiian culture trainer Hi'ilani Shibata teaches them a timeline of island history, Hawaiian language - even a little bit of pidgin English.

"When people come up to them, we want them to say 'Aloha. Pehea oe?' How are you? … within the language of this place. Then, the history, they like learning that - so when they have 'talk story' time with somebody that's visiting, they can tell them something about that place they're at, you know?" explains Shibata.

Over one thousand volunteers have already signed up to help during APEC leaders' week. It runs November 7th through 13th. They'll be greeters, drivers, guides, and informational assistants to more than 20 thousand delegates and media. Trainer Cybil Rawlins says: in hospitality, it's the little things that count most.

"We talk about aloha a lot, but it's that smile," says Rawlins. "It's that genuine want to serve and to be a great host, is the most important thing."

The host committee requires volunteers attend a full day of training and work a minimum of five days. Due to the event's high level of security, each volunteer is also screened and interviewed.

Lead volunteer Noelani Schilling-Wheeler says, "I wanted to be a part of APEC because it is the most exciting thing that's happened to us in the state of Hawaii for a long time."

Volunteer Greg Contilla added, "I thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know people and learn more about APEC and just helping out in the community."

The APEC host committee is still accepting applications. At this point, though, because so many have already signed up, you'll be put on a volunteer "wait list". There are three more training dates: August 27th, September 17th and September 24th. For more information, go to

These recruits will play a key role in the event - on the frontline as Ambassadors of Aloha.

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