Naperville expands global reach by welcoming Chinese Counsel General

Naperville is an unusual suburb for a variety of reasons including a recent visit from a Chinese Counsel General:

Mayor George Pradel on Tuesday named Chinese Consul General Zhao Weiping an honorary citizen.

“The city of Naperville … is proud to have many guests from all nations visit our community,” he said. “We welcome the people who come here to make their home in our city and we appreciate the opportunity to share our culture with you and learn all about your homeland. We extend our friendship to you as we experience a spirit of mutual understanding and respect.”

Weiping’s consular district spans nine Midwestern states, an area that is home to 300,000 Chinese nationals or Chinese Americans as well as about 50,000 Chinese students, according to the consulate. The consulate office in Chicago provides services ranging from visas to cultural exchanges…

“This award means friendship … between China and Naperville,” he said. “This award also means responsibility. Responsibility for me to work hard for this relationship. The city of Naperville is not only an important business hub in the great Chicago area, one of the most livable cities in the U.S., but also home to tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants.”

Naperville has worked recently to cultivate more international connections and business partnerships, including naming liaisons between the city and large groups of immigrants living in Naperville. The suburb has also named two sister cities in the last few decades:

Nitra, Slovakia chosen in 1993 for these reasons:

Although geographically distant, Nitra and Naperville share many similarities. Both communities:

  • Developed from an agricultural base and now support technical industries;
  • Have similar climates;
  • Enjoy a riverwalk and a nearby arboretum;
  • Place a high value on education and are college towns;
  • Benefit by the presence of service organizations, such as the YMCA and the Lions Club; and
  • Enthusiastically support athletics, the arts and family centered activities.

The goals of the Naperville-Nitra Sister Cities Program include:

  • Creating opportunities for cultural exploration;
  • Providing economic development and trade opportunities;
  • Opening a dialogue that addresses mutual issues including culture, technology, government, business, medicine, environment, and education.
  • Developing partnerships through which we can creatively learn, work, and solve problems together

Pátzcuaro, Mexico chosen in 2010 for these reasons:

Pátzcuaro was chosen as the city’s second Sister City from a list of candidate cities that were evaluated with a scoring system and placed on a readiness chart. Key drivers in the process were leadership, cultural and mutual understanding benefits, distance and ease of travel.

Pátzcuaro was chosen in part because of its similarities to Naperville, including its strong emphasis on primary, secondary and higher education, its honor of history and the arts, a strong and growing economy and ease of transportation. The purpose of the Sister Cities relationship is to encourage cultural exchange between the two communities and establish lasting educational and economic ties.

This hints at the globalization of American suburbs which includes: more immigrants moving directly to the suburbs when they arrive in the United States; multinational corporations locating headquarters and facilities in the suburbs; and the easier spread of information and knowledge between suburbs and all points of the globe. At the same time, how much will these relationships really transform Naperville? Can it become a cosmopolitan/world-aware suburbs 25 miles southwest of Chicago?