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In 1985 the Hebei Shijiazhuang Prefecture Corn Processing Delegation was hosted by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad in his official State Office. From left to right: Liu Luqing, Bai Runzhang, Xi Jinping, Governor Terry Branstad, Yu Xiqing, Xia Wenyi, unknown, Jean Kaung. (Photo courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa)

In 1985 five young Chinese traveled to Iowa as an agricultural delegation. This trip forged bonds of friendship that brought one of them back to Iowa in 2012. This visitor was then the vice president of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping.

On February 15, 2012, almost 30 years after his first visit to Iowa, Vice President Xi Jinping walked through the front door of the Lande home in Muscatine, Iowa, for the second time. He smiled and was heard saying, “it feels like coming home.” Sarah Lande extended a warm Iowa welcome. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor of Iowa)

For 27 years Xi Jinping held fond memories from this 1985 visit close in his heart. While visiting Beijing in 2011, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad learned Xi Jinping wished to visit his "Old Friends" in Iowa.

"Old Friends": The Xi Jinping Iowa Story illustrates the personal journeys of Iowans and Chinese as they first traveled to each other's countries from 1979 through 2015. 

Sarah Lande has been a catalyst in building people-to-people relationships between these two countries.  Because of her involvement in both visits, the 1985 visitors asked her to tell this story.



Sarah Lande introduces the team that helped her create “Old Friends”: The Xi Jinping-Iowa Story. The official launch of the memoir was held May 3, 2018 at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, Iowa.  From left to right: Albert Liu, Sarah Lande, Amy Bakke, and Joni Axel. (Photo by Michael Kreiser)

The Sarah D. Lande US-China Friendship Education Fund is a nonprofit corporation.


Our Iowa nonprofit corporation’s purpose is: 

  • To provide fully-funded scholarship opportunities for students of all ages to continue and expand our cultural and educational citizen diplomacy, primarily with China.

  • To own and publish this Memoir. It is compiled by Sarah D. Lande and developed from the collection of materials, notes, photos, speeches, audio and digital files, books, and documents illustrating people-to-people relationships among Hebei Province, China, President Xi Jinping, and the people of Iowa beginning in 1979. 

  • To provide education and inspiration for people of all ages, particularly students, to participate in global citizen friendship. 

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