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Chinese Delegation Toured City of Marshfield as part of MISEP Program

On Friday, October 27, officials from Zhangjiagang, China visited the City of Marshfield to sign a Sister City Agreement between Marshfield, Wisconsin, USA and Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, China. The Chinese delegation toured City Hall, Mid-State Technical College, Marshfield High School, and Marshfield Clinic.

Part of the Marshfield International Student Exchange Program (MISEP), the visit was designed to acquire additional information for future partnerships, collaboration, or possible investment opportunities within the city.

“Over the last several years, the Unified School District of Marshfield, University of Wisconsin Marshfield/Wood County and others in our community have nurtured and developed a relationship with Zhangjigang, a community in the people’s republic of China,” said Mayor Chris Meyer. “This was done to encourage the sharing of ideas, development of business relationships and the sharing of educational opportunities for students in both communities.”

Meyer added that today there are several students living in the community as part of foreign exchange programs with China.

“The development of a new sister city relationship with Zhangjigang, China formalizes this partnership and ensures that continued opportunities will be available to businesses, students and residents for many years to come,” he said.

The partnership began during the fall of 2014, when leaders from the UW Marshfield campus approached the Marshfield School District about a possible collaboration. The UW Colleges System had been reaching out to K-12 school systems that shared a two-year UW campus in the same community. Their desire was to see an increase at the secondary level of international students in hopes these students would consider the UW system as a viable post-secondary option.

Once the District had board approval, the next step was forging partnerships and making international contacts. As UW officials had already established partnerships with educational agencies in China, these same partners would become the cornerstone of high school recruitment for Marshfield.

Marshfield High School established a sister school relationship with collaborating school, Liangfeng High School of Zhangjiagang. The 2016-17 school year yielded ten international students to Marshfield High School’s international program, all from Liangfeng High School. The 2017-18 school year yielded eleven students from the same sister school.

In attendance were Xu Pingguan, Deputy Mayor of Zhangjiagang Municipal Government Cai Caihong, Director of the Zhangjiagang Tourism Administration Qian Jieya, Deputy Director of Zhangjiagang Education Bureau, Dong Jiangang, Deputy Director of Zhangjiagang Technology Division Wu Yanfei, Deputy Director of Zhangjiagang City Foreign Affairs Office Annie Wu, Abel He.

“Our international relationship with the City of Zhangjiagang began through education,” said Anna Chapman. M.I.S.E.P. coordinator. “What proved to be the core benefits of this previous partnership will likely be important at the higher level of local government and throughout the community as a whole.”

Chapman added that the rate of internationalization has increased rapidly.

“Marshfield, Wisconsin, being a small and close knit community, can only benefit from the cultural diversity this type of partnership allows,” she said. “As previously with education, this new partnership allows our community to better understand the culture of other nations. The signing of an MOU, or Memorandum of Understanding, with the City of Zhangjiagang is seen as an agreement of mutual understanding and respect. This could lead to collaborations unknown and previously unexplored. We are hopeful that the signing of an MOU will open the doors for cultural and economic exchanges.”

Chapman enjoyed sharing the Marshfield community with the Chinese visitors.

“Fostering relationships with our visitors is always enjoyable but seeing our community through an outsider’s perspective allows for a renewed appreciation for the community we live and work in,” said Chapman.

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