BANGOR, Maine — A former Bangor official who delivered a gift on behalf of the city to the people of Bangor’s sister city in China returned with a gift: a painting of lilacs, the city flower of Harbin.
Gerry Palmer, chairman of the Chinese Language and Cultural Center of Maine and a former Bangor City Council chairman, accepted the gift on behalf of the city during the Bangor Chinese School’s recent trip to Nangang District of Harbin, China.
Palmer unveiled the painting during a City Council meeting Monday night.
“They had a very formal ceremony there in Harbin,” he said before the council meeting, describing a setting with attendees lined up on either side of a long table and Chinese- and English-speaking interpreters on hand. “It was very, very impressive.”
An inscription in English and Chinese attached to the painting reads, “To our sister city: May the friendship between the people of Bangor, Maine, USA and Nangang District in Harbin, P.R. China last forever!”
A monument recognizing the relationship between Bangor and Harbin was dedicated last July along the Bangor Waterfront.
The inscription reads, in Chinese and English, “Sister City Memorial: Dedicated to the enduring friendship between the people of Bangor, Maine, USA and Nangang District in Harbin, China April 1, 2012. Supporting and Enhancing the Continuity of the Global Community.”
While in Harbin, Palmer presented sister city officials with a 61-pound duplicate of the inscribed plaque and a key to the city of Bangor.
Harbin, often called “Ice City” because of its bitterly cold winters and ice sculpture festivals, is located at the northeastern tip of China. Nearly 6 million people live in the city’s urban area, which, like the Greater Bangor area, serves as a cultural, economic and educational hub for the region.
The relationship was formed in 2010, when Palmer and Bangor Chinese School founder Jing Zhang decided to tie the communities and cultures together as the United States and China continue to forge bonds.
The school runs a trip to China each year.
Bangor Daily News writer Nick McCrea contributed to this report.