By Peggy McCabe
Belmont Heights’ own Dr. Mary Barton has been recently honored by Chinese officials for her work as a Long Beach sister city leader. In October 2021, Mary was named Ambassador of Friendship of Shandong Province, recognizing the 30 years she has spent cultivating person-to-person relationships between Long Beach residents and those in Qingdao, China. Long Beach and Qingdao have been sister cities since 1985, and the Long Beach-Qingdao Association (LBQA) has been the most active group among five sister cities in Southern California. LBQA is an integral part of Sister Cities International (SCI), a non-profit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between communities in the United States and those in other countries.
Growing up listening to stories of the adventures of her parents (who were in the South Pacific during World War II) fostered in Mary a life-long love of international travel and connecting with people from around the world. This passion was nurtured during her tenure as Professor of Business at CSULB during a period of intense globalization of international business and trade. Mary joined SCI during this time and has been active for over 30 years in the organization. The recognition Mary received as Ambassador of Friendship of Shandong Province honors her sustained contribution to building and strengthening the close ties between the two port cities over the last three decades.
Receiving the honorable recognition conveyed by the “Ambassador” title has been personally gratifying to Mary. What she most appreciates is the opportunity her involvement has provided for significant person-to-person interaction, the opportunity for long-lasting friendships, high-school and college student exchanges, as well as cultural trips to China. Mary encourages interested members of our community to investigate the opportunities provided by joining Long Beach Qingdao Association (LBQA.org).