Omaha-Yantai Sister City Visit to China
The chair of the Yantai sister city committee, Betty Chin, visited Jinan and Yantai in October. She filed this article below.
I was introduced to Omaha Sister Cities Association (OSCA) by Maorong Jiang, an OSCA Board Member. In his search for a new candidate to replace the outgoing chairperson of the Omaha-Yantai Committee, he recommended me as the new chairperson and delegate as the invited guest to attend the Shandong International Friendship Cities Conference for Cooperation and Development in Jinan and to energize our sister city relationship in Yantai.
I wasn’t familiar with OSCA and Omaha-Yantai committee, but I acknowledged the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with Yantai and obliged to OSCA for the confidence in my statesmanship and social skills. This was an excellent opportunity to visit China and rekindle that relationship. After discovering the unchartered invitation, Maorong and I literally had a few days to organize my international journey to make connections to the conference in Jinan, October 14-21, 2019. With an introduction from Andy Schilling, in his official capacity, to the Consulate General of PRC in Chicago, we worked feverishly to secure a Chinese Visa, airline reservations, lodging, and interpreters before my US departure.
In Jinan, I lodged at Sofitel Luxury Hotel (27th floor) which towered 49 floors. Top floor housed and rotated, slowy, a Chinese Buffet Restaurant to showcase an aesthetic 360 degree view. The Yantai Delegation Officials held the Welcome Banquet Dinner in an elegant dining area on another floor with invited delegates from Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Norway, and United States. The food was unique and delicious, something I wouldn’t find in a typical US Chinese restaurant. The Deputy Mayor presented a scroll with a Chinese character symbolizing “double happiness” to each delegate as a token of appreciation recognized as a Yantai sister city. A special entertainment in honor of the delegates followed with an incredible light show at Daming Lake in Jinan. Furthermore, I was interviewed by young television reporters from China Press outside the conference area. Being recognized as an American Chinese, they wanted to hear my opinion of the conference. I stated that I was impressed with the world-wide gathering in achieving global unity. Not sure if the news report was aired in China.
My trek to Yantai with two interpreters continued on a bullet train over three hours. I lodged at Golden Gulf Hotel, a five-star hotel showcasing an excellent Chinese Buffet. Their sit-down restaurant was tucked away viewing Bohai Strait with a magnificent beach-wharf area. I toured the eleven-floor Lighthouse, a flower garden, Changyu Wine Culture Museum and wine tasting, World Industrial Design Conference & Industrial Design World Expo (WIDCIDWE) and Pacific Rim Park project.
The opportunity to China as a new Omaha-Yantai committee chairperson representing OSCA was phenomenal. Being well-received and treated with kindness and respect extended a lasting relationship between the cities. A sisterly relationship was strengthened after meeting the Yantai colleagues. Plans for a ten-year anniversary celebration for June 2021 by the committee will be underway. June 8, 2011 was the official Omaha-Yantai sister cities recognition.