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Chinese delegates to return to Shelburne Falls


July 24, 2011

SHELBURNE FALLS — Six delegates from the Republic of China will be visiting Mutianyu’s “sister village” of Shelburne Falls on Monday and Tuesday, before going on to Boston and Toronto.

This is the second time that representatives from that picturesque community, beneath the Great Wall of China, will pass over the Bridge of Flowers or ride the No. 10 trolley at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum.

According to Julie Upton-Wang, one of the coordinators of the trip, the group is interested in sustainable tourism.

Upton-Wang grew up in Shelburne Falls and now lives in Beijing. While she and her husband, Peiming Wang, helped to develop The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu, she saw similarities between scenic Mutianyu and her hometown. Both communities’ economies were largely dependent on tourism and both have relatively large populations of artists and craftspeople. (The Schoolhouse is an arts and culture center, with a glassblowing studio, restaurant, country store and other attractions.) Upton-Wang’s idea of linking the villages was presented to Shelburne and Buckland selectmen by Susan Samoriski in 2006, and the “sister village” pact between the two villages was born.

Most of the visitors will be making their first visit, except for Mutianyu Mayor Lianting Li, who visited Shelburne Falls in June 2007, said Virginia Ray, one of the coordinators for this event.

The other visitors represent the Huairou District, a township of 21 villages, including Mutianyu, a 6th-century town with about 400 residents and 6.5 million annual tourists. The Chinese dignitaries to visit will include Huairou’s tourism bureau director Baojun Jiao; Tourism Administrative Office Director Fuli Zhang and Mutianyu Cable Car Co.’s General Manager Huaisheng Yang, who is in charge of daily operations at the Great Wall.

Heading the delegation will be the chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Zhengang Wu. Also coming is the vicedirector of forestry and landscaping for the Bureau of Parks, Jianguo Quin, whose wife was the head of the last delegation.

On Monday afternoon, the group will be welcomed at a reception/luncheon buffet at the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center, sponsored by Greenfield Co-operative Bank, the Mary Lyon Foundation and the Shelburne Falls Kiwanis Club.

The group will spend much of the stay visiting local attractions in Shelburne, Buckland and Charlemont. They will be staying at the Warfield House in Charlemont. Ray, Samoriski, Dena Willmore and Upton-Wang have organized this event for the delegates.

A photography exhibit of life in Mutianyu is now on display at the Arms Library; and a display of gifts that were given to the Shelburne Falls delegation to China in 2010 will be exhibited in the front display window of Baker’s Pharmacy.

Area businesses and residents will be providing gifts to the delegates as mementos of their visit here.

-Combined Sources