Building Bridges: fundraiser helps foster Macomb connection with China

Macomb Daily/ by Gina Joseph/ January 24. 2015

The People’s Republic of China is getting to know Macomb County and residents here are getting to know them. This is thanks in part to the bridges being built by the Macomb Cultural & Economic Partnership (MCEP), which is hosting the Lunar New Year Celebration Feb. 4 at the Golden Harvest Restaurant in Warren to help support its efforts.

“I had the good fortune to travel to China in 2008. That first trip it — totally flipped my entire world view. Before that I was like a lot of Americans who view China as the economic boogie man. Going there you really see there is a massive transformation in the global economy going on,” said Fred Miller, president of the Macomb Cultural & Economic Partnership. “Whether or not we choose to see it, it’s going to affect our lives and our children’s lives in the future.”

The Lunar Dinner is the only fundraiser hosted by the nonprofit organization created by a group of visionaries, who are dedicated to expanding opportunities by building international relationships, cultural appreciation and practical knowledge.

“We work really hard to put Macomb County on the map for the Chinese,” Miller said of the six-member board.

That involves building bridges.

And to do that takes relations on a number of levels including business, education and government.

“So we have instigated programs where we’ve taken a number of political leaders, business leaders and education leaders to China, to see it for their own eyes and hosted Chinese leaders who have come here,” Miller said.

As he and members of his group pointed out in a press release, “We want to help Americans better understand the People’s Republic of China, the challenges it faces and the realities of everyday life in China. And we want to help the Chinese better understand these same realities of life in America.”

In the past, Chinese business leaders looking to invest in America would head to the West Coast and then New York –- because that’s what they know and that’s what their predecessors did. Now because of the growing relationships created by the MCEP business leaders and delegations from Beijing and Shanghai are flying into Detroit Metro Airport. Some are even sticking around. Yang Feng USA is an automotive trim system business out of China that now has a presence in Harrison Township.

“Last year we hosted about 150 college students,” Miller said.

Through one of its programs that partners with Chinese law schools, students from China interested in learning about America are invited to stay with host families in Macomb County for up to three months. During their stay they learn about all aspects of American way of life –- from what families eat for dinner and do for work to how they have fun in their spare time.

“They tour courts, meet with attorneys and judges at all levels including the state Supreme Court and learn our system of government and the rules of law by which we live,” Miller said. “So, on a macro level, we also are teaching them about democracy.”

Having law students visit here also creates a bridge for Macomb County students to go there. Miller said several schools have created partnerships in China through the work of the MCEP including L’Anse Creuse High School, The International Academy of Macomb and Fitzgerald High School.

“It’s really exciting to see,” Miller said of the student exchanges. “I’m reminded of how I was when I made my first visit and saw the opportunities.”

Tickets for the Lunar New Year Celebration are $50 per person and include a multi-course New Year’s banquet served at the Golden Harvest Restaurant. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the work of MCEP.

The Golden Harvest Restaurant is at 6880 East 12 Mile Road, between Van Dyke and Mound Roads in Warren. For more information about the dinner or the MCEP, visit Macomb Cultural & Economic Partnership or call 586-783-6008.

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