Finding the best way to teach Chinese
To Donna Wiseman, director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Maryland, the fact that her institute is the first of its kind in the US brings both pride and profound responsibility.
Established in 2004, the institute is now one of the more than 100 Confucius Institutes in the US — and 440 in the world.
“I think we paved the road. People do look to us to see what we are doing,” said Wiseman, who serves as dean of the College of Education at the University of Maryland (UMD). “We feel very strongly that we need to be a good role model.”
The institute, she said, has managed to stay focused on the core mission of CI worldwide — teaching the Chinese language in foreign countries. Its non-credit classes enroll about 100 people, including the university’s students and faculty members, as well as people from surrounding communities.
The institute also houses a HSK testing center which provides standardized testing for proficiency in Chinese. According to Wiseman, the institute has tested more Chinese-language learners than anywhere in the US. The institute’s data show that about 940 people from nearby states took the test in 2013 and about 600 people have attended this year so far.
“There is an expanding need for people who understand the Chinese language. If an American has knowledge of the Chinese language, then it really opens up opportunities for them in business or government, particularly in the Washington region,” said Wiseman, who held various leadership positions at Northern Illinois University and Texas A&M University before joining UMD in 2001.
“Under the guidance of leaders of the two nations, the military-tomilitary relationship between the two countries has been developing well,” Fang said.
“We should cherish these hardwon achievements, prevent possible disruptions and continue to move forward.”
Dempsey said he and Fang continued their conversation on the military-to-military relationship, focused on further understanding one another and deepening cooperation between the two armed forces while managing their differences.
“Today’s meeting was productive. We made progress on important issues,” Dempsey said. “We commended each other on the progress we made in establishing confidence building agreed to by our presidents at last year’s Sunnylands summit.”
Dempsey described the initiatives reached on Thursday as “intended to continue to build a positive relationship, help us manage risks and reduce the chance of misunderstanding.”
In their meeting on Thursday afternoon at the White House, US Vice-President Joe Biden and Fang both affirmed the importance of and the need to maintain momentum in the development of US-China military-to-military relations, according to a White House press release.
Dempsey said the Rim of the Pacific naval exercise, in which China will be taking part for the first time, fosters sustained and cooperative relationships. The exercise, known as RIMPAC, is set for June 26 and August 1 off Hawaii, involving 23 nations.
“The global maritime environment is simply too large and too complex for any one nation,” Dempsey said.
Fang said he hoped the US would adopt an objective attitude on issues in the East and South China Seas so as not to allow them to disrupt the healthy and stable development of relations between the two countries and two militaries.
He believes that some countries in the region have tried to cause trouble by taking advantage of the US rebalance to Asia strategy and China’s need for stable economic development.
Fang told the media that China has exercised great restraint in the South China Sea over the years when other countries have set up oil rigs there. And China’s oil rig is within China’s territorial waters, referring to the recent construction of an oil rig only 31 km away from the Zhongjian Island, part of China’s Xisha Islands.
He also explained the Chinese principle of sheltering differences and seeking common exploitation.
He voiced China’s determination to ensure the successful drilling at the oil rig.
Fang also explained to the foreign media that it was Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea that changed the status quo for 40 years.
Fang believes issues that cause concerns in the Asia Pacific include the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, Japan’s territorial disputes with China, South Korea and Russia and some disputes in the South China Sea.
On Thursday afternoon, Fang departed for North Carolina to visit the US Army Forces Command at Ft Bragg. He will wind up his trip with meetings in New York on Friday.
On Tuesday, Fang visited the US Third Fleet in San Diego, California, and met Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of US Pacific Command, who escorted Fang on a tour of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
Donna Wiseman, director of the Confucius Institute and dean of the College of Education at the University of Maryland, showcases a book about the teachings of an ancient Chinese sage.