Building a cultural bridge between China and the vibrant, multi-cultural center of Miami Dade College is the beginning of a beautiful relationship
The Confucius Institute at Miami Dade College builds a cultural bridge with South Florida.
China and south Florida are getting to know each other.
As the Confucius Institute at the southernmost point in the US, the center at Miami Dade College has shown progress in its three-pronged mission: to make Chinese language education available to communities in South Florida; to expand international education by offering China-related social, cultural and trade programs; and to make China and its burgeoning opportunities known and accessible to the people of south Florida.
“China is not only very far geographically but other factors such as cultural and language barriers can make this country and all it has to offer a luxury to reach. These constraints can impoverish the educational, cultural and commercial horizons of a community,” said Xuejun “Jim” Yu, director of the Confucius Institute at Miami Dade College.
“We at the Confucius Institute do not want south Florida to downsize its global reach,” Yu added.
Through a partnership with the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) and Jiangsu Normal University in Xuzhou, Miami Dade College inaugurated its Confucius Institute in 2010.
Since then, the Institute has been a driver of positive social change through the expansion of community education and enrichment services in Chinese language and culture.
The institute at MDC now offers credit courses in Chinese language that fulfill the college’s foreign language requirement, non–credit courses in both Chinese language and culture, study abroad scholarships as well as lecture series, seminars and conferences.
According to recent census figures, only 1.69 percent of Miami’s population is Asian and Chinese make up 29 percent of that.
As the only Confucius Institute in the Greater Miami area, a home to a large population of immigrants, the CI at MDC strives for far–reaching community impact.
According to census figures, 17.9 percent of Miami Dade County residents live under the poverty line as of 2011.
“There is a famous saying from Confucius that says ‘Teach all comers without discrimination’, which exactly defines the No Child Left Behind Act in the US,” Yu said.
“Our partnership with Miami Dade College, the largest and most diverse community college in the nation, is making the gift of an international education possible for hundreds of traditionally underserved students,” said Yu.
“Most students at MDC are from immigrant families, whose native language is not English. Their families cannot always send them to top universities,” Yu said.
“But education can change everything. We are here to provide them an opportunity to learn Chinese. Most of our programs are free except credit courses. We even offer scholarships to outstanding students to attend summer camps in China or to study abroad one or two semesters in China,” Yu said
Thanks to the institute, Miami Dade College can offer its 161,581 students the option to travel to China on a scholarship that covers all tuition costs.
“After learning Chinese, they could attend a better graduate school, they can find a better job because of the language advantage,” said Yu.
The CI holds citywide cultural events through partnerships with major cultural organizations like the Miami International Film Festival (MIFF).
Founded in 1983, the MIFF has included many films from not only the US but also South America and Europe. But films from Asia have gone relatively unnoticed.
Since 2013, the institute has partnered with MIFF to present the Miami International Symposium on Chinese Cinema and its application in Chinese language and cultural education as part of the Festival’s Spotlight on Asian Cinema programming.
The CI has conducted master class seminars on Chinese and Chinese-American films at each year’s festival. This complimentary classes focus on the films’ underlying themes, such as the realities of urban life and the conflict between modern and traditional values.
In March, the film Mountains May Depart (2015) by Chinese director Jia Zhangke was submitted by the institute to the Spotlight on China section of the festival. The film won the Best Performance by an Actress for its star Zhao Tao, one of the festival’s five grand prizes.
“Miami is a special place as it’s considered the gateway to Latin American,” Yu said. “The number of flights between Miami and capital cities in South America surpassed all the other cities in the US.”
“Our unique role as a two– way bridge between people, opportunities and industries in south Florida and China positions us best to help residents reach their goals,” said Yu.
There is a famous saying from Confucius ... ‘Teach all comers without discrimination’.” Xuejun Yu, director, CI-MDC
Students at the Confucius Institute of Miami Dade College stage a China-themed fashion show at the institute.