BANGOR, Maine — A group of Bangor-area kids are heading to China for a three-week cultural immersion and are bringing along something to tie together two cities more than 6,000 miles apart.
About 15 middle and high school students with the Bangor Chinese School, joined by chaperones, are slated to leave on July 24 for Bangor’s sister city, Harbin, China, in the northeastern part of the country. They’ll be on a direct flight from Boston to Beijing before traveling the remaining 750 miles to Harbin.
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.”
Gerry Palmer, chairman of the Chinese Language and Cultural Center of Maine and a former Bangor City Council chairman, is tagging along on the trip and will be bringing a 61-pound duplicate of the inscribed plaque. He plans to present it to Harbin officials along with 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 Jing Zhang, founder of the Bangor Chinese School, and Palmer 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.