Young Chinese Leaders Come to Crystal Lake and Woodstock – Part 1

Waving good-bye at the Crystal Lake train station.

At the end of June, 2007, I had the opportunity to host young political leaders from China.

It was an exchange trip sponsored by the American Council of Young Political Leaders.

Illinois State Capitol

Back in the fall of 1976, I had an opportunity to go on a junket to Europe (Brussels, Germany, the Netherlands, a ferry boat trip to Sweden).


  • attended a NATO conference,
  • toured its headquarters where I met a former Democratic opponent of Congressman Robert C. McClory,
  • got to talk to the equivalent of Barry Goldwater’s campaign manager the week before the German election,
  • met with parliamentarians in a railroad liberal waterfront home reception (where I learned about home health care to allow seniors to stay in the homes longer),
  • visited a Viking boat museum,
  • stayed in hotel overlooking Trivoli,
  • pretty much had a great time on a busman’s holiday.

So, when I got an email telling of how Chinese young politicians were coming to Illinois to visit Springfield and Chicago, I figured a long ride on the train through suburbia might expand their knowledge of what the United States is all about.

Previously, they had visited either Arizona or Washington, D.C., and were on the way to the other.

Seeing the Southwest, Washington, D.C., Downtown Chicago and Springfield just didn’t seem to be a representative tour of the United States.

Suburbia had been left out.

I arranged for things for them to do.

Meeting the delegation at the Metra Station, I told them what was on the schedule for the day.

Upon arriving at Lakeside Center, the group walked around looking the food booths.

First we would eat at Lakeside Center, then take a boat ride on Crystal Lake, visit the county jail and tour models in a new subdivision.

Before we got on the bus that Algonquin Township Road Commissioner had kindly provided, I explained what I had been told about their incarcerated countrymen by the head of the Corrections Division of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department.

He had explained Chinese men and women arrived at O’Hare’s International Terminal, but couldn’t get out because they didn’t have passports.

They were then taken to the McHenry County Jail.

He said that the men had to work their fee off in Chinese restaurants around the country, living in the basements.

The women ended up as prostitutes. According to him, they submitted because the gangs that arranged for them to fly into O’Hare threatened to do bad things to their relatives, if they didn’t work off their debt.

Come to find out, they had spent all day before at the Cook County Jail.  Sheriff Tom Dart had given them the grand tour himself.  I asked if they had seen the good and the bad parts and was assured that they had seen everything.

Too much, in fact.  I got the impression if they never saw another American jail that would be alright.

I assured them that McHenry County’s would provide a favorable comparison to Cook County’s.

First, we would got to Lakeside Center to eat.

I can never remember the difference between the Lakeside Festival and the Gala, but I found a photo of this Gala ticket so I guess that was what it was.

Ferris Wheel at Lakeside Center

I figured they could see how Americans entertain themselves in a summer festival and have a wide choice of food.

I had hoped Perry Moy would be at his Plum Garden stand, but he wasn’t.

Apparently the delegation wasn’t hungry.

Since one of the visitors had the word “township” in her title, I had invited the township supervisors who were women. Richmond Township Supervisor Tammy Valentine-Garza and McHenry Township Supervisor Donna Schaefer came. Schaefer brought her daughter, who was born in China.

Some spoke good English, some none. One, who was working at the new stock exchange, has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

More tomorrow.

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