A tour of Confucius Institutes in the Americas
Wiseman is particularly proud of the institute’s ability to prepare Chinese-language teachers at public schools, mainly at the elementary and secondary levels.
With funds from Hanban four years ago, Wiseman was able to build a new academic unit within her own College, called the Center for Chinese Teacher Certification and Development, which offers master’s degrees and certificates to students who aspire to become Chinese-language teachers.
The institute also houses the largest HSK testing center in the US which provides standardized testing for proficiency in Chinese. The Institute’s data showed that about 940 people from nearby states took the test in 2013 and about 600 people have attended this year so far.
According to Hanban, last year only, 370,000 people worldwide attended the test in more than 800 test centers, one-fifth of the total number of participants since the test launched in 1990.
“The growth of Hanban in 10 years is dramatic. I do not know of any other government programs of any other countries that’s been so successful in 10 years. I think Hanban and Confucius Institute have done more to improve the visibility and positive image of China than almost anything else. It is huge,” said Wallce Loh, president of UMD.
And for Steven Knapp, president of George Washington University who also is a member of the Council of Confucius Institute Headquarters, a combined governing body and advisory board for Confucius Institutes worldwide, CI’s success contributes to the well-being of a bigger cause.
“The relationship between our two nations is the most important international relationship for determining the future of the world. To have culture understanding and exchange and people-to-people contact is very critical to the future of the world and to the many challenges that we have to address,” said Knapp whose university launched a CI last May. Chicago
Chicago is where the first partnership between Hanban and a US public-school district was formed.
Established in 2005 as a collaboration between the City of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Hanban, the Confucius Institute in Chicago has the largest Chinese-learning program in the US — 63 full-time teachers offering 13,000 elementary and secondary students Chinese and cultural classes in 43 schools.
Housed at the Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, the institute also has a library of more than 10,000 multimedia materials for both K-12 teachers and students.
This year 24 students were selected across CPS for an upcoming trip to Hangzhou, China, for a four-week intensive Chineselanguage immersion program under the “100,000 Strong Initiative”.
The initiative, announced by President Barack Obama in November 2009 during a visit to China, aims to improve bilateral relations between the US and China by sending more American students to study in China.
Wanxiang America, the largest Chinese company in Chicago, has been contributing to the initiative and the CI in the city since 2012.
According to Wanxiang America, so far 150 US students have studied in China under Wanxiang’s financial support. In the next two years, Wanxiang plans to contribute $450,000 to help build 72 more students’ connections with China.
The Confucius Institutes and Classrooms they visited during this tour of the Americas are just snap shots of a grand display of more than 440 CIs and 650 CCs worldwide. It helps to showcase how broad and deep the initiative has helped people get connected with China.
With the rising of China to become the world’s second largest economy, the desire and need among people to learn about the country and its language have significantly increased over the past 10 years. China has a rich combination of more than 5,000 years of civilization and history. How to actively reach out to help the global community know more about it has become increasingly important. In the meantime, the whole operation has to be well perceived by each continent.
Confucius Institutes have spread all over this planet. Even for Xu Lin, the dedicated and tireless steward of CI, the 10-year achievement is “beyond expectation yet tangible”. During this trip, Xu said the success lies in “each student, each teacher, the Chinese side, and the foreign partner side.” It is the synergized and joint efforts that have led to build this common platform.
In reviewing the report cards of the past 10 years, Xu Lin could see countless signs of success. Now she is mapping the next 10 years for Confucius Institutes. Contact the writers at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, charlenecai@ chinadailyusa.com and changliu@chinadai-