President Murano, Consul General Qiao Officiate Opening of The Confucius Institute at Texas A&M Univ
College Station – Over 200 guests from state agencies, school districts and the local and campus communities celebrated the launch of the Confucius Institute at Texas A&M University (the Institute) on Monday (April 28) at a ceremony officiated by Texas A&M President Elsa Murano and Consul General Hong Qiao from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Houston, both of whom are the first woman in their respective positions. The ceremony closed with James Chen, Regional Director - Asia/Pacific of Economic Development & Tourism at the Office of the Governor, delivering a proclamation from Governor Rick Perry to congratulate the opening of the Institute.
The Confucius Institute at Texas A&M is a partnership between the university, the Ministry of Education in China and the Ocean University of China. Since its inception in September 2007, the Institute has worked on a number of initiatives to enhance Chinese language and culture education in both Texas A&M and the State of Texas, including the participation of the George Bush China-U.S. Relations Conference in Washington D.C. in October 2007, the first Brazos Valley Worldfest and the “China Today” teachers workshop for K-12 teachers in Texas in November 2007.
Globalization of the A&M campus-at-large is a key emphasis of Vision 2020, Texas A&M’s roadmap for becoming a top-10 public university by the year 2020. As part of this effort, President Murano has expressed a desire to increase the participation of Texas A&M students in international educational experiences.
“We are indeed living in a global society today. As China is taking an increasingly influential role in world politics and economics, it is crucial for us to prepare our students for interaction in the fields of politics, culture, economics, business, and education,” said President Murano. “Through the Confucius Institute and our strengthened partnership with the Ocean University of China, we have opened up a new door for student and faculty exchange opportunities.”
This summer, nine students from A&M will be participating in a faculty-led study abroad trip to China. They will spend 10 weeks in Qingdao to study Chinese language and international communication, take excursions to Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius, Beijing, Xi’an and Hong Kong, and work in various international companies as interns.
Another key function of the Institute is to promote Chinese language learning both at the university and in communities across Texas.
Dr. Randy Kluver, Director of the Institute for Pacific Asia in International Programs Office, is serving as the Founding Director of Texas A&M’s Confucius Institute.
“Learning Chinese as a second language has been a global trend in the last few years,” Kluver said. “In U.S. schools, the number of students learning Mandarin jumped from an estimated 5,000 to 50,000, a tenfold increase, between 2000 and 2005. The Ministry of Education in China predicts that there will be 100 million individuals around the world studying Mandarin as a second language by 2010.”
Named after the famous Chinese philosopher and educator, the Confucius Institute is a program funded by the Ministry of Education of China to promote understanding of Chinese language and culture. The first Confucius Institute was established in November 2004 in Seoul, Korea.
“I’m pleased to say that in less than four years, we’ve witnessed tremendous growth. There are currently 226 Confucius Institutes in 66 countries in the world,” said Consul General Qiao. “The Ministry of Education in China and the Consulate are committed to helping Confucius Institute at Texas A&M University to promote Chinese language and culture, and, ultimately, U.S.-China relations.”
Within Texas A&M’s Confucius Institute, a number of academic and administrative units have joined together to collaborate. The College of Liberal Arts, the College of Education and Human Development, the Institute for Pacific Asia, and the Office of International Outreach worked together to develop the proposal, and representatives from each of the colleges and the International Programs Office traveled to Beijing in January to present the proposal to the Ministry of Education.
Along with academic activities, the Confucius Institute at TAMU plans to sponsor and organize cultural and outreach events on campus. The agreement with the Ministry of Education provides support for additional Chinese language instruction, instructional materials such as Chinese language books and DVDs, and access to a network of institutions worldwide committed to preparing their students for engagement with China in the future. One key factor the Confucius Institute will explore is how to involve teachers, K-12 students and communities in understanding the Chinese culture.
The ceremony was also featured in The Eagle. Click to read the article.
> President Murano, Consul General Qiao Officiate Opening of The Confucius Institute at Texas A&M Univ