The Foreign Service (China) Group’s plans for Streator are stalled due to relations between the U.S. and China.
The Foreign Service (China) Group purchased Sherman School and the former Immaculate Conception Church in preparation to begin a program that would have tied it to Streator High School, Illinois Valley Community College and the city of Streator itself.
“I think it’s accurate to say that Yang Hong, our point of contact on the Streator Project, has put the project on hold because of geopolitical relations,” said former City Manager Scot Wrighton. “I can’t speak for them, but in my interactions, I have reached the conclusion that all of the strained relations are behind the postponement of the project.”
Streator High School Superintendent Matt Seaton said the high school is not involved in the project but they do have a student from China they are interviewing who could enroll as early as January. However, that would be part of a traditional exchange program and would not pertain to The Foreign Service (China) Group's project.
“The grand plan was to have IVCC have some kind of continuous track school through college through a U of I program,” Seaton said. “It was talked about but it never even came close to fruition.”
The Streator High School Board agreed to accept a maximum of 20 Chinese foreign exchange students, if the program got off the ground.
The China group hosted an open house at Sherman School in October 2018 with the plans of beginning operations for the 2019 school year, but it hasn't come to be. The Streator Community Center still uses Sherman for youth activities per an agreement with the Foreign Service Group.
Their plan was to bring Chinese students to Streator as a way to immerse in American culture and teach students about American teaching method, as well as provide a way for them to learn English. The group also was also planning to offer Chinese culture and Mandarin language classes to the community.
Hong told The Times in June 2018 the classes are designed to diversify local activities and share culture in the same way Streator will be sharing its own.