Find­ing the best way to teach Chi­nese

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CAI CHUN­Y­ING in Col­lege Park, MD charlenecai@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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.

CAI CHUN­Y­ING / CHINA DAILY

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.

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