Jennie Xu, a learning and development specialist at Disney University, never expected to add ambassador to her list of duties.
She is the first such ambassador chosen to represent Shanghai Disney Resort, which is due to open in spring next year.
“When I decided to join the selection process, I thought it might be a unique experience for me,” she said. “Now, well I’m simply overjoyed to have been chosen.”
During her two-year term through 2016, she will represent “cast members” of the resort in promoting the new Disney resort across the mainland and in the local community. Xu’s “magic moments” with Disney actually started about five years ago, when the new graduate joined Disney English as an assistant trainer to teach English to children aged between two and 12.
“Three years spent with children have enriched my Disney experience, which might have been helpful in the selection for ambassador,” Xu said.
Her role was later expanded to provide orientation training to new Disney English teachers. In 2012, she joined Shanghai Disney Resort as a learning and development specialist at Disney University, where she continued orientation training for new cast members and Imagineers.
As a trainer, Xu has become very familiar with Disney’s culture and values.
“I was curious about Disney ambassadors, so I applied when the selection process was opened to company employees last year,” she recalled. “I don’t know exactly how many people applied, but I knew the competition would be tough.”
The selection process involved rigorous written exams and personal interviews with top managers.
“The questions were mainly about communication skills, but I think they also wanted to gauge our passion for the heritage and culture of Disney,” Xu said.
When she was asked during an interview to describe her “most magical moment” working for Disney, Xu recounted a heartwarming party her colleagues organized to mark her first five years of service with the company.
“My teammates made a short film depicting my working during those five years, and each of my colleagues sent their best wishes to me in the video,” Xu said. “My eyes swelled with tears as I realized what a big and caring family we had become.”
The selection process ran for over two months. During that time, Xu said she didn’t really feel she would be chosen but the experience itself was enlightening. When the result was announced, Xu said she was absolutely delighted to be named Shanghai Disney Resort’s first ambassador.
Founder Walt Disney began the ambassador program five decades ago to represent himself and cast members at events in the community.
Although the responsibilities have changed over time, the ambassadors still play an important role in Disney resorts.
They are “cheerleaders” to boost employee morale, “bridges” to link different levels in the corporation and “spokespeople” at Disney events and community activities. They visit places such as schools and hospitals, participating in various volunteer projects.
Xu has already begun her work. Last month on World Earth Day, she joined Disney volunteers to visit a local primary school to talk to students about environmental protection, with the aid of interactive games.
“I do feel a great responsibility,” she said of her new role. “And I look forward to the grand opening of Shanghai Disney Resort. I hope together with all of our cast members, we can help create lifetime Disney memories for our guests once the resort is open.”