3:44 p.m., Oct. 20, 2010----The University of Delaware's Confucius Institute for the advancement of Chinese language and culture was inaugurated Oct. 19 in an applause-filled ceremony capped by celebratory performances ranging from a violin virtuoso's serenade to a traditional Chinese lion dance.
“We thank you for making the long journey to the U.S. for this wonderful celebration and for your extraordinary dedication to the cause that's brought us together tonight,” said UD President Patrick Harker to President Zhu Chongshi and his delegation from Xiamen University.
A strong collaboration between the two universities resulted in the proposal for the Confucius Institute at UD. The Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, approved the proposal earlier this year and will provide continuing support for its language instruction and cultural programs. UD's Confucius Institute is one of more than 300 around the world.
The Confucius Institute at UD will advance several of the University of Delaware's most important goals, Harker said, including expanding UD's international reach and amplifying its impact, strengthening global partnerships, and developing collaborative initiatives in international and transnational issues.
“Through the institute, we'll build interest and competence in Chinese language and culture, and instigate a deeper appreciation of China's global importance not just among members of the University community, but throughout the state and region,” Harker said.
Harker noted that the Confucius Institute also will build a strong bridge between the University and the private sector, fostering economic scholarship and entrepreneurship.
“Confucius, the great thinker and philosopher, proposed that harmony is the highest form of relationship between people, nations and states,” noted Xiamen University President Zhu Chongshi during his remarks. “This has become the most precious element of China's cultural heritage.”
Building strong international partnerships has been a hallmark of Xiamen University. A leader in international education since its founding in 1921, Xiamen University has over 150 inter-institutional agreements in place for student exchanges and joint research. In one such endeavor, UD and Xiamen scientists are conducting collaborative research through the Joint Institute for Coastal Research and Management, a partnership forged by Xiamen's College of Oceanography and Environmental Science and UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.
Since 2006, Xiamen University has established 11 Confucius Institutes around the world, with the twelfth now at UD -- a relationship that has blossomed rapidly since the universities' initial collaborative agreements in 2007.
“Under his strong support and commitment, the relationship is growing every day,” President Zhu Chongshi said of President Harker. “We will do everything in our power to aid the teaching of the Confucius Institute,” he noted.
Congratulatory letters were read by First Secretary Shen Yiling on behalf of Zhang Yesui, ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the U.S., and by Jianguo Chen, director of UD's Confucius Institute, on behalf of Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters.
“ 'Knowledge is the light of the mind' -- the Confucius Institute will make the light ever brighter and help the people of Delaware learn the Chinese language and culture, and become a bridge of friendship between the American and Chinese people,” Chen read.
Joining Chen in the leadership of the Confucius Institute is co-director Huang Jiangjun, deputy dean of the Overseas Education College and The International College at Xiamen University.
Capping the celebration, the University of Pennsylvania Lions performed an energetic Chinese lion dance; New York musician Judy Yeh presented “The Sparkling Galaxy” on the Chinese guzheng or horizontal harp; violin virtuoso Xiang Gao, professor of music at UD, accompanied by Marian Lee, played the “Fisherman's Serenade”; and UD's Dragonfly Dance Club, resplendent in gold costumes, performed the traditional Chinese dance “The Splendor of Dunhuang.”
“The Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware will provide remarkable educational opportunities for UD students, faculty and staff, as well as the surrounding community,” concluded UD Deputy Provost Havidán Rodríguez, who has led UD's international efforts.
Rodriguez noted that during lunch the previous day with Professors Huang and Chen, the two joked that they would have to work very hard because they had a feeling that Rodríguez is a perfectionist.
“Today was perfection at its finest point,” Rodríguez said with a smile.
Article by Tracey Bryant
Photos by Kathy Atkinson