Chester County’s cultural, business and education ties with China strengthened this week with the arrival of 40 “junior” Chinese representatives to the county.
The China Blue Junior Journalist group, students aged nine to 14 from the Zhenjiang Province, met with county government, business, education and tourism representatives at the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau on Friday morning, July 21st, before touring Longwood Gardens. The students, selected to travel to North America by the Zhejiang Television Station Children’s Channel, presented handmade gifts and interviewed Chester County representatives for news productions that will be edited and aired on their return to China.
Welcoming the young delegation was Mike Grigalonis, Chief Operating Officer of the Chester County Economic Development Council; Paul B. Redman, President and CEO of Longwood Gardens; Susan Hamley, Executive Director of the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau; and Tiffany Lawson, Executive Director of the Governor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs. Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell, who has spearheaded the Chester County China Initiative, prepared a specially-taped welcome for the group.
“The continued development of the relationship between China and Chester County brings lasting benefits to businesses, schools, colleges and universities, and to the residents of our community,” said Commissioner Terence Farrell. “Because we have made an effort to establish these ties, Chester County was the only area outside of New York City and Philadelphia to be included on the China Blue 14-day itinerary.”
Mike Grigalonis, Chief Operating Officer of the Chester County Economic Development Council, noted: “The China Blue group represents the 10th delegation we have hosted in the last two years. We have gotten Chester County “on the map” in China and believe the more Chinese civic, business, and student leaders we can expose to Chester County, the more likely we are to attract visitors, investments, and business opportunities.”
Highlighting the range of horticultural education and training opportunities that are already being undertaken by Chinese students at Longwood Gardens, Longwood’s President and CEO Paul Redman said: “We are fortunate to have partnerships with gardens in Shanghai, China and Shenzhen, China which enable students and staff to come to Longwood to study, and offers our students and staff learning opportunities in China as well.”
During the formal presentation, Tiffany Lawson presented the group with a letter of welcome from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.
The 40 China Blue Junior Journalist delegates were selected from hundreds of candidates in the Zhenjiang region. They have already interviewed attendees during the National People’s Congress in Beijing and have been increasing their interview skills in Philadelphia and Chester County. The students will also visit the Chinese Consulate General and will tour the XinHua news agency and Bloomberg media in New York City.
“Tourists from China that come to Chester County are second in number only to Great Britain,” commented Susan Hamley, Executive Director of the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau. “And we estimate that by 2020, Chester County will welcome more visitors from China than any other overseas country.”
While in the Philadelphia and Chester County area, the China Blue Junior Journalist group was hosted by DENO International Education Consultants, an organization that works with Chinese public and private schools to assist Chinese students studying in the United States, and especially in Chester County.