With Coronavirus sweeping the country of China and other parts of the world, members of the Hays Sister Cities Board felt powerless to help their friends and colleagues in Hays’ sister city of Xinzheng, Henan Province, China. Committee members agreed that a heartfelt video message could convey their concern and support.
In front of a replica of Dennis Shiel’s Hays mural, members of the group greeted viewers in Chinese with “Ni hao!” (Hello, then proceeded to express their well wishes for safety and good health for all in Xinzheng. A Fort Hays State University Chinese graduate student translated the message and provided a voice-over for the video.
Xinzheng is located in the city where Fort Hays State’s partner university Zhengzhou Sias University is located, which is in the province of the sister province for the state of Kansas. In 2019, FHSU celebrated 20 years of educational collaboration with Sias and has graduated over 10,000 students from its programs there. Members of Hays Sister Cities visited Sias and Xinzheng for the 20th anniversary celebration and established a personal relationship with representatives of the city of Xinzheng.
Mehran Shahidi, director of international recruitment and intercultural integration at FHSU, has been an integral part of the university’s relationship with Sias. Shahidi felt strongly about the message.
“I have been to Xinzheng 15 times. They are wonderful people, and my heart goes out to them,” Shahidi said.
The mayor of Xinzheng, Mr. Zhifeng Ma, quickly responded to the video with an official letter to Hays:
The Sister-cities Council of Hays:
“Friendship makes us neighbors no matter so far apart”.
In the critical moment when we are united and overcome the difficulties in fighting against the COVID-19. We are very pleased to receive the best wishes from the city of Hays. On behalf of one million people of Xinzheng, the Foreign Affairs Office of Xinzheng Municipal People's Government, entrusted by Mr. Ma Zhifeng, Mayor of Xinzheng Municipal People's Government, would like to express his heartfelt thanks to our Sister-cities Council of Hays and the people living in Hays!
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, we are all of one mind to take responsibilities in fighting against the diseases. Everyone has taken actions to protect our beloved people, beloved home, beloved city and our beloved country. The love we cherished helps to gather the strength to race with the time and fight against the illness. We firmly believe that we will win!
Although the two cities, Xinzheng and Hays, are on each side of the Pacific Ocean, we have made fruitful achievements in cultural exchanges and cooperation. We sincerely hope that we will further strengthen our communication and exchanges to promote the cooperation in culture, education, science, technology and other fields in the future, and jointly depict a beautiful picture of exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations.
We hope that more and more Hays citizens come and visit our beautiful city of Xinzheng.
I sincerely wish every citizen and every family of Hays a happy and healthy life!
Foreign Affairs Office Xinzheng Municipal People's Government
Brittney Squire, outreach services specialist at FHSU’s Forsyth Library and member of the Hays Sister Cities board, met Mayor Ma in Xinzheng last summer.
“We were welcomed with open arms by the people of Xinzheng and we wish to offer our sincerest support,” Squire said.
“In our meeting with Xinzheng city officials last year, we discussed a number of ideas for our cities to work together for the betterment of our communities. We look forward to continuing our partnership with our friends abroad, especially during this challenging time.”
Hays has two sister cities. Besides Xinzheng, Santa Maria de las Misiones, Paraguay is also a sister city. Hays Sister Cities is a committee of local citizen volunteers with a passion for international collaboration. The group is a member of Sister Cities International, the oldest and largest organization of citizen diplomats in the nation. For information on Hays Sister Cities, email [email protected] or find the group on Facebook.