While their national governments argue and negotiate conflicts, the cities of New Haven and Changsha are on their way to establishing official friendship ties.
Officials of the two cities completed signing a letter of intent on Oct. 17 to become sister cities, committed to “people-to-people understanding” and exchanges.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp signed that letter before that date. Then she put it in the hands of her culture czar, Andy Wolf. Wolf traveled to Changsha, the capital of Hunan province with more than 5 million people, to obtain the John Hancock of a representative of Mayor Hu Henghua at a formal ceremony.
The two sides committed to cooperate on educational, health care, trade, science, culture, and tourism exchanges “to promote common prosperity and development.” They also committed to “regular contacts” between their leaders and to mutual visits by business or government delegations.
Click here to read copies of the letter in both English and Mandarin.
Wolf also bore gifts on his visit: pieces commissioned from New Haven’s own Silk Road Gallery.
For the relationship to become official, the two mayors need to be in the same place at the same time. Their staffs are working on it. Mayor Hu has been invited to New Haven as part of a planned 2017 New York visit. Having Mayor Harp fly to Changsha is also under consideration. New Haven’s other sister cities include Amalfi, Italy; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Leon, Nicaragua; Avignon, France; Afula-Gilboa, Israel; Hue, Vietnam; and San Francisco Tetlanohcan, Tlaxcala, Mexico.
Wolf visited Changsha along with David Youtz, executive director of the Yale-China Association. That association (previously known as “Yale in China” founded a nursing school and high school (called “Yali”) in Changsha 110 years ago. The institutions have weathered World War II, the Korean War, and the Cultural Revolution, and have grown and prospered.
Youtz and Wolf discussed all that and their trip (from which they returned) during an appearance Thursday on WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” program. They also discussed the new bullet trains are racing through the country at 300 miles per hour, and Wolf’s sampling of deep-fried tree bark. (It apparently tasted like a chewy vegetable.) Click on or download the above sound file to listen to the episode.