Welcome to a Tradition of Progress May 31, 2017

Welcome to a Tradition of Progress: The USA Pavilion at Central Asia’s First World’s Fair in Astana, Kazakhstan
By: Dr. Joshua Walker, CEO, USA Pavilion

Ever since I had the honor of being appointed President of the USA Pavilion at this year’s World EXPO in Astana, Kazakhstan, I’ve been struck by the rich history of the World’s Fairs and the importance these events have had across the globe for over a hundred years. However, despite my appreciation and respect, I still didn’t quite realize the magnitude of the historic event until a recent trip to Disneyworld with my family.

While exploring Magic Kingdom Park, I stumbled upon the famous Carousel of Progress. Built by Walt Disney himself for GE, the Carousel unveiled state-of-the-art Audio Animatronics at the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York. The Carousel of Progress is still iconic among the Expo community, and has the legacy of being Walt Disney’s favorite exhibit ever.

The Carousel of Progress is yet another reminder of the impact World’s Fairs have had throughout the world in not only inspiring the minds of their guests, but our very landscapes. From the iconic Crystal Palace at the very first Expo in London of 1851 to the world-renowned Eiffel Tower in the heart of Paris to the historic Chicago Ferris Wheel, the World’s Fairs have proven time and time again to be the epicenter for the creation of legends.

The United States has a long history of not just Expo participation, but the hosting of Expo’s, having hosted the World’s Fair over 30 times across the country. Each city that has hosted the Expo has only deepened the heritage of American innovation for World’s Fairs, as they have often been the venue of the community’s greatest accomplishments. For example, it was at the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia that Alexander Graham Bell first demonstrated the telephone and the 1964 Expo in New York even displayed the first jetpack along with the Carousel of Progress.

The World’s Fair most significant attractions usually aren’t the physical constructions; it’s the opportunity to meet with brilliant, innovative people from across the world to share ideas in-person. Expo 2017 in Astana will be the single biggest international event this year, drawing in people and their respective perspectives for every corner of the globe who will be eager to both hear and share the most innovate concepts the world has to offer. Given that this is Central Asia’s first World’s Fair its significant that the United States will be well-represented with our USA Pavilion that seeks to tell the story of America’s own innovations and source of energy from our businesses, people, and society at large.

Moving forward, I’m confident this years and every future year’s Expos will only continue to feature groundbreaking innovations, and provide incredible opportunities for people across the world to come together and share their ideas in person. This historic tradition does not end with Astana, but rather is just beginning. Expo 2020 in Dubai is already on the horizon, we are hopeful that the Expo returns to the United States in 2023 to continue marking its place in the history of American innovation.

I’m not predicting that our pavilion will be an attraction at the Magic Kingdom over a half-century from now when my son is old enough to take his family. However, I am confident that the USA Pavilion will serve as a powerful reminder and a lasting symbol of how important the United States-Kazakhstan bilateral relationship is by expressing our support for Central Asia’s first World’s Fair.

We at the USA Pavilion look forward to seeing you in Astana and being part of the 2017 World EXPO that follows in the proud tradition of World’s Fairs.

This post was first published in the Huffington Post