A city of St. Cloud and St. Cloud High School delegation traveled to China from March 25 to April 6 for cultural and business interaction.
The trip was arranged in efforts to seek school and business ties between select communities in China and St. Cloud. The St. Cloud delegation included Mayor Nathan Blackwell, City Manager Joe Helfenberger, and High School Principal Nathaniel Fancher and Dean of Students Eric Godfrey.
The delegation toured and explored the China cities of Beijing, Yan’an, Xi’an, Quinyang and Baoding for possible locations to bridge school and community interaction. The trip for these community officials was financed through the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida and JDX Education Consulting, LLC, an educational company.
“We visited seven schools among the five cities,” said Helfenberger. “School populations ranged from 700 to more than 7,000 students. Chinese representation from school and business leaders at these sites enabled communication regarding the potential for investment opportunities in St. Cloud. We met with high-ranking Chinese government officials in all of the cities. A final meeting encouraged the strong possibility for a delegation of Chinese business leaders to explore development opportunities here in St. Cloud. Consideration for future visits to the St. Cloud area was also planned for evaluating potential development. The business contacts ranged from industrial to commercial and agriculturally based businesses. While in Beijing, several meetings with the Director of Tourism Marketing fostered interest for potential business investments in St. Cloud.”
Key negotiations between the Chinese business representatives and the St. Cloud representatives were made through the efforts of Andrew Jeng, president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida and member of St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce. Jeng lives in Central Florida and has educational ties with St. Cloud. The city of St. Cloud and school officials will continue to work with him for the advancement of school and business ties that were established during the trip, city officials said.
“We are very grateful to Andrew and all the people we met with while in China,” said Blackwell. “I will forever treasure our hosts who treated us so kindly. Although a foreign land to us, they treated us royally and made us feel right at home while offering their generosity and hospitality. It was an agenda-filled trip, but very productive. We look forward to continuing our efforts and expanding on the relationships developed, which will further enhance both our communities.”
>From an educational perspective, each community was toured to examine the amazing differences in various grammar, middle and high schools. The Quinyang Superintendent of Schools has close connections with the government people and set up a meeting with government officials to enable potential business investment in St. Cloud. Friendship agreements were signed between St. Cloud High School and the communities of Quinyang, Yanchuanno, Jianyang and the high school attached to Beijing University of International Studies. These agreements will support a bridging between the community schools to foster exchange through language and other cultural opportunities.
“This trip between both countries’ government and educational leaders was a successful first step to establish a foundation for deeper relationships between China and the United States for Central Florida,” Helfenberger said. “Visiting the various communities and collaborating with school and government representatives developed a trust between community leaders. This trust has opened up communication between city of St. Cloud, St. Cloud High School and the Chinese communities for future endeavors. The future is promising because of this important first step.”