NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - Guo Xu, 39, international lawyer from Beijing, China, was a guest on the Bethel College campus and in the Newton community Dec. 3-8, under the auspices of Mennonite Church USA and Bethel College. This visit to the United States, his first, had special poignancy for Guo Xu because 2002 is the 70th anniversary of the graduation of his grandfather, Stephen Wang, who graduated from Bethel College in 1932. Wang and James Liu were among the earliest international students to graduate from Bethel College. Wang and Liu came to Bethel to study at the invitation of former missionary to China and later Bethel president, Ed G. Kaufman.
"I have been waiting 20 years for this visit," Guo Xu said.
In the Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel College he was delighted to see photographs of his grandparents and great-grandparents. The photographs, which he had never seen, had been lost or destroyed during World War II and China’s Cultural Revolution which followed.
Guo Xu, a graduate of China’s premier university, Beijing University, is a partner in a law firm that provides legal services for Chinese and international firms engaged in joint ventures in China. He was instrumental in procuring legal registration for the China Educational Exchange (CEE), a consortium of Mennonite agencies which has sent more than 160 teachers to China and hosted 60 Chinese scholars in the United States. Among CEE teachers who have served in this program in China have been James and Anna Juhnke and Douglas and Raylene-Hinz Penner, all former Bethel College faculty.
Hosts for Guo Xu were Robert and Lois Kreider of North Newton and Sheldon Sawatsky of Mennonite Church USA. Besides meeting Bethel College President E. LaVerne Epp and others at Bethel College, Guo Xu visited with Newton attorneys and the staffs of Victim Offender Ministries, Kansas Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolutions, Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Central Committee.
Guo Xu’s visit brought together his interests in his ancestry and in Bethel College. "It is a privilege for Bethel College to be part of Guo Xu’s personal story," said President Epp. "I hope we can continue to build a relationship with him as we explore ways to bring our cultures together and share international learning experiences."
Guo Xu’s week in the Newton community was part of a two-week United States visit, sponsored by the China Educational Exchange, which is headquartered in Harrisonburg, Va.