After months of meetings and recent travels between the city and developers and education specialists in China and South Korea, positive relationships and economic development considerations may lead to hundreds of Asian students furthering their educations in the Battle Creek area.
In early June Mayor Dave Walters and Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing joined a delegation of Korean representatives traveling to Rushan City in the Shandong Province of China to meet with local developers and government officials. A formal ceremony and discussions between officials offered a symbolic step in forming a positive relationship between the two cities.
“What a wonderful cultural experience to be hosted by our Chinese and Korean friends, as well as to host them in Battle Creek,” said Mayor Dave Walters. “Establishing this relationship was such a positive first step as we continue discussing how to work together in the future.”
Master Hee Kwan Lee, founder of the local Korean Martial Arts HapKiDo Academy has helped facilitate the relationship, with the goal of establishing an economic, cultural and tourism exchange between the cities.
An expanded Korean delegation also recently visited Battle Creek, hosted by Dearing and other city officials. The exploratory visit allowed officials from Kyungpook University – in the capital city of Daegu Metropolitan City, Gyeongbuk Province of South Korea – to become familiar with the city and local education institutions as potential education partners and future home to an international branch of the university.
Tentative plans moving forward are to establish a working partnership in Battle Creek and offer educational opportunities for up to 1,000 total Chinese and South Korean students at a time through Kellogg Community College and Western Michigan University. Officials will continue discussing opportunities to develop housing and other amenities to support these activities and the potential that some students may remain as residents of the region.
“We are taking these discussions one step at a time, but are very encouraged with how things are taking shape,” Walters said. “We are off to a very positive start.”