UB’s Confucius Institute celebrates 12 years of impactful programming
As the UB Confucius Institute (UBCI) ceased its operations at the end of 2021, faculty, administrators and community partners celebrated its impactful work at the university and in western state of New York for the past 12 years with a celebration that included a music and dance program at UB and a banquet at the Eastern Pearl Restaurant in Amherst.
Established in November 2009, UBCI has sponsored research, teaching and artistic production related to China at UB; Chinese language teaching and student exchange at UB and local K-12 schools; and cultural events that fostered a better understanding throughout western New York State of Chinese traditions and contemporary culture. Annual funding was provided by the Office of the International Chinese Language Council (aka âHanbanâ) and UB in cooperation with Capital Normal University, UB’s long-time partner in Beijing.
For the December 12 afternoon program at the Center for the Arts Dramatic Theater, John Wood, Senior Associate Vice-President for International Education, delivered a welcoming address on behalf of Nojin Kwak, Vice-President for international education, who was traveling abroad.
âWe can never know how much the encounter with China made possible by UBCI will influence the thousands of local K-12 students who have benefited from its programs, let alone our own students at the UB, âWood said. âIt is therefore very unfortunate that the current circumstances leave UB no choice but to close the institute. For those of us who have been involved in our long-standing collaborations with China, this new era of growing geopolitical tensions is painful to contemplate, as we are losing a key local resource for engagement with China.
The program that followed Wood’s remarks included vocal performances by the Buffalo Chinese Chorus, Nichols School Chinese Chorus, and soloist Robert Liu; instrumental pieces performed in guzheng by Zhongbei (Daisy) Wu, visiting associate professor of music and director of the Confucius Institute at Alfred University, and in viola by Leanne Darling, assistant professor of viola interpretation at the ‘UB; and dances presented by the Buffalo Fanghua Dance Group, the Buffalo Taichi Group, the Buffalo Qipao Group and UB management student Yijun Zhu.
A highlight of the evening’s banquet at Eastern Pearl was the presentation of the Confucius Educator Award to local K-12 Chinese language teachers, Yajie Zhang of Nichols School and Shue Zheng of City Honors. School, and Xuehong LÃ¼, director of the Chinese language program at UB for nearly 20 years before his retirement in 2018. The awards recognized the distinguished teaching and outstanding leadership of the recipients in the development of premier Chinese language programs. plan in their respective institutions.
The banquet program also included remarks from UB administrators and Confucius Institute community partners. Lixin Zhang, president of the Chinese Club of Western New York when UBCI was established, spoke about the central role UBCI has played in hosting the annual Chinese New Year of the community gala at the Center for the Arts and in many other collaborative programs. Paul Casseri, Lewiston Porter Central School District superintendent, thanked UBCI for helping place 10 J-1 visiting professors from China in the district, for funding Confucius classes, and for collaborating on many other programs that have introduced Lewiston Porter students and teachers to the Chinese language. and cultural.
Other speakers on the evening program include Stephen Dunnett, professor emeritus of education, former vice-president of international education and long-time chair of the UBCI advisory board; Zhiqiang Liu, director of UBCI and professor of economics; and UBCI Associate Director Bruce Acker.
Dunnett reflected on the impact of UBCI over the years, noting how proud he was of his association with the institute and of his many contributions to improving knowledge of Chinese language and culture. , and support for university research on China. He said he viewed UBCI as an outgrowth of UB’s pioneering programs in China in the early 1980s, which made the university particularly well-known there.
In a previous ceremony honoring members of the Confucius Institute Advisory Board, John Thomas, Professor and Dean Emeritus of the School of Management, received the Confucius Educator Award for his leadership in several groundbreaking Executive MBA programs in China and elsewhere in Asia.
From 2010 to 21, the Confucius Institute partnered with professors from many departments at UB to co-sponsor 74 lectures given by professors and other leading scholars in Chinese studies across North America; 26 major conferences, symposia and art exhibitions featuring scholars and artists based in the United States and China; and over 25 workshops and seminars for teachers. The institute hosted six Chinese J-1 visiting professors to teach in the linguistics, learning and teaching and art departments of UB, and organized 42 Chinese J-1 teachers to teach the language and Chinese culture in K-12 schools in Erie. and the counties of Niagara.
Through the Confucius Institute, more than 80 UB students and 75 high school students received full or partial funding to study in China, including 12 students who received Confucius Institute scholarships for one semester or one year of study. ‘studies in Chinese universities. In total, more than 35,000 students from UB and Western New York have studied in Chinese language programs affiliated with UB Confucius Institute.
Liu concluded the December 12 program by thanking and congratulating UBCI sponsor and partner, Beijing Capital Normal University, as well as collaborators from the local community, as well as UB faculty and staff.
âAs we celebrate 12 years of the Confucius Institute, let us be proud of what we have accomplished, together, over the past 12 years; be grateful to our sponsor and partners; and let’s congratulate each other, âhe said. âTogether we had a fabulous race.
âAs we bid farewell to the Confucius Institute,â he noted, âlet us be confident that we will find new ways to continue the work of the Confucius Institute: promoting learning Chinese, fostering better understanding of Chinese society and engage in research and teaching of China.