Confucius Institute Provides Speakers for the Senior World Passport
The Confucius Institute at Texas A&M is supporting the efforts of outreach to community senior citizens through the Senior World Passport Program. Seniors had the opportunity to learn about the positive benefits of Tai Chi and the Tea House Culture in September and get a new perspective on Chinese horticulture and how it reflects Chinese philosophy at a seminar in October.
Texas A&M University and the City of College Station have collaborated for nearly ten years by offering what they call ‘arm chair” travel for senior citizens by way of their very successful Senior World Passport Program. The program generally includes 5-6 sessions on different countries or regions specifically for senior citizens in the community. On average, there are around fifty attendees at each session. Each attendee is given a souvenir “passport” they can have stamped at each session they attend. The sessions are given by A&M faculty, staff, students and/or their family and include international cuisine, music, displays and handouts.
This year the Confucius Institute took the lead in three sessions. During these sessions, food related to the region or topic is offered and music is played that will enhance the attendees perception of China.
At the first session in September, members of the audience were invited to learn some of the key concepts of the practice of Tai Chi and were led by the speaker, Dr. Suzanne Droleskey, through some of the various movements. What first began as a martial art has become a fall-prevention exercise for the elderly to improve balance and overall wellness.
Seniors were primed and ready for the Tea House Culture presentation on September 26 by Dr. Wang Di, Professor of History in the College of Liberal Arts. Wang specializes in Chinese social and cultural history. His books include The Teahouse: Small Business, Everyday Culture and Public Politics in Chengdu, 1900-1950;Street Culture in Chengdu: Public Space, Urban Commoners, and Local Politics, 1870-1930 winner of the Best Book (Non-North American) Award for 2005 from the Urban History Association; and Striding out of a Closed World: Social Transformation of the Upper Yangzi Region, 1644-1911. He has published articles in Modern China, Journal of Urban History, Later Imperial China, Twentieth-Century China, European Journal of East Asian Studies, Chinese Historical Review, and Lishi Yanjiu. He has been awarded research fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Institute for International Research at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, the American Council of Learned Society, and National Endowment for the Humanities.
In the last Senior World Passport Program session on China, Professor Deng Hongfeng from Ocean University of China gave a presentation on Chinese Penjing, Micro-Scenery in a Basin. Deng said the basin can be best understood in the background of Chinese ancient intellectual-officials’ philosophy and ideals. Every element in a micro-scenery reflects one of the ideals: stone and water stand for rivers and mountains, in Chinese metaphor; they are the country; pine stands for adamancy and perseverance; bamboo for integrity and courage, orchid for modesty, etc. The intellectual-officials cultivated micro-sceneries in their home to show they always put their country in the mind and also to remind them of these personal characters they should pursue in their life time.
Deng currently serves as a visiting scholar and Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at Texas A&M. He received his Master’s Degree in 1982 in History. Since then, he has worked as an Associate Professor and Professor of History and Linguistics at Shandong University, and later at Ocean University of China. He was a visiting scholar at Harvard University from 1986 to 1987 and again in the department of Philosophy of Queen’s University, Canada from 2000 to 2001. At Texas A&M Deng teaches one of the advanced community Chinese classes.
Contributed by: Linda Edwards - Director, Public Partnership & Outreach
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