HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Back in the Hubcity from his trip to China, Mayor Johnny DuPree says the Pinebelt has a lot to gain.
"They want to have a relationship with the us and in particular, Hattiesburg, because we've already reached out to them and they've reached out to us," said DuPree.
DuPree was part of a small delegation from William Carry University which left the U.S. last week, where the goal was to build foreign relationships, and for the city of Hattiesburg, the first one.
"I think that we actually showed them, that we were first willing to build a relationship. I think you first have to show yourself friendly if you want friends. I think we did that and I think that impressed them," said DuPree.
Also part of the delegation from William Carry was Vice President for advancement Scott Hummel who says the trip presented the city and the university with numerous opportunities, you can't get unless you're actually there.
"It's that opportunity to see things differently, that we do things well here but there are other ways to do things. We learn just by seeing that comparison and that contrast," said Hummel.
DuPree and Hummel both say a major point of interest was the explosion of economic growth and it's close ties with education, an area the U.S. could use a little schooling in.
"At a time when we're cutting education, they're putting money into education," said DuPree.
"I think you see that economic growth paired with that educational growth because they know that education is absolutely essential for fueling that economic development," said Hummel.
"They understand that without education, what will happen to your country. So they're looking for every opportunity to expand that education and they put their money behind what their beliefs are," said DuPree.
"They know, their parents know, their society knows they are competing globally," said Hummel.
The delegation met with the mayors of the cities Linyi and Yantai, and now , Hattiesburg is in a corporative agreement with the city of Linyi to be a foreign sister city.
"If we respect it a little bit more than that and continue to nourish these relationships , I think that the citizens of Hattiesburg, the citizens of the pinebelt area, will all benefit from us traveling and building those relationships abroad," said DuPree.
William Carey, which already has a teaching exchange agreement with Linyi Normal University, formed another, this time to create a library space in both cities, to house collections and artifacts from the other's country.
"We need to learn more about them and they know that they need to learn more about us and this library in a sense becomes that tangible bridge," said Hummel.
DuPree says he does plan to travel again to China and hopes to bring along economic leaders, in hopes of bringing back new initiatives.
"We knew that there would be opportunities, that's why we went. But once you see an opportunity and you seize that opportunity, it then opens up additional opportunities, which then opens up additional opportunities," said Hummel.
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