ICMA China Center Facilitates Mentoring Trip

ICMA members embark on a memorable mentoring trip to China.

ARTICLE | Aug 2, 2013
Students at CUPL learn about local governance in the United States.


City manager Clay Pearson from Novi, Michigan, and city manager Bill Monahan from Milwaukie, Oregon, traveled to China for a mentoring trip in July facilitated through the ICMA China Center. Over the course of two weeks, the ICMA members presented lectures in Beijing, trained local government officials in Qingdao, and delivered speeches about American city management in Yangzhou.

ICMA’s Chinese partner, the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), invited Pearson and Monahan to teach in CUPL’s summer school program, “Governance in a Global Perspective.” Monahan and Pearson arrived in Beijing on July 11, 2013, and got straight to work. Monahan spoke to CUPL undergraduates about American urbanization and Pearson presented a lecture on the topic of American local governance. The two city managers combined novel concepts and theories with years of practical experience to  expose the students to different knowledge structures, teaching styles, and ways of thinking. Pearson and Monahan pleasantly recounted that the students showed much interest, enthusiasm, intelligence, engagement, and openness. The city managers stated that “within this one-week intensive course, we experienced an unforgettable connection and friendship with our Chinese students.”

Immediately after departing from CUPL’s campus on July 21, Pearson and Monahan boarded a train to their second stop on the trip, Qingdao, a municipality located in the eastern Shandong province of China. They became the trainers for the 2013 City Management Internationalization and Legalization Training Program in Qingdao for more than 80 local government officials from 11 Chinese cities. During the program, which was organized by CUPL, the ICMA China Center, and the Qingdao Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement, Pearson and Monahan shared their experiences with American city development models, and participated in discussions on challenges and problems with China’s city management. The trainees voiced positive comments and expressed an interest in future training opportunities.

On July 23, at the invitation of the Yangzhou municipal government, Pearson and Monahan arrived in Yangzhou, a municipality located just 330 miles south of Qingdao, and delivered speeches on American city management. They emphasized the leadership role of city managers, urban growth boundaries, and the prevention of rapid urbanization. Attendees included local professionals in the fields of construction, planning, land use, and civil affairs. Monahan and Pearson remarked that the audience was very interested and asked many questions about their experiences in this area. The local newspaper spoke highly of the speeches and featured them as “new ideas and new inspirations.”

This mentorship trip is one of the highlights of the ICMA China Center and served as a bridge for sharing ideas and practices in city management between China and the United States. Both Chinese partners and the ICMA experts expressed satisfaction with the courses and trainings, and confidence for the program’s future.

To learn more about these and other activities, visit the China page on the ICMA International website and the “International Development” topic area in the Knowledge Network, or email international@icma.org.


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