Mi­ami out­reach

Build­ing a cul­tural bridge be­tween China and the vi­brant, multi-cul­tural cen­ter of Mi­ami Dade Col­lege is the be­gin­ning of a beau­ti­ful re­la­tion­ship

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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