Dennis O'Brien (center), president and CEO of China Monitor Inc., presented the Confucius Institute at UD with a check for $12,000 to support the housing of visiting scholars. He is flanked by Nancy Brickhouse, deputy provost, and Jianguo Chen, director of the Confucius Institute.

A sparkling celebration

Confucius Institute at UD celebrates first anniversary


2:38 p.m., Oct. 24, 2011--For a first anniversary, the traditional American gift is made of paper. For its first anniversary, the Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware received a very fine paper gift, indeed — a check for $12,000 — presented during a sparkling celebration at the Roselle Center for the Arts on Oct. 19.

The generous donation, made by Dennis O’Brien, president and CEO of China Monitor Incorporated (CMI), will help support the housing costs of visiting scholars for the Confucius Institute. 

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Recently, O’Brien pledged support for faculty funding and internships in a proposed master’s degree program in technical Chinese translation that is currently before the UD Faculty Senate, and pending approval, will begin accepting students for the 2012 fall semester. He also has pledged support for a postdoctoral fellowship in industrial economics for five years.  

In presenting this latest gift, O’Brien said, “Confucius tells us ignorance is the night of the soul, without the moon, without the stars” and then recited a poem of his own composition, which concluded: “Let the light we light tonight fill us with grace and truth, and we will never stand alone again.” 

A collaboration of the University of Delaware and Xiamen University, the Confucius Institute was established at UD last year with the support of the Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. Jianguo Chen, associate professor of Chinese studies and director of the Chinese Program at UD, serves as director of the institute, and Jianjun Huang, deputy dean of the International College at Xiamen University, serves as co-director.

In her remarks, UD Deputy Provost Nancy Brickhouse applauded the progress the Confucius Institute has made in meeting its key objectives of building interest and competence in Chinese language and culture; instigating a deeper appreciation of China’s global importance; and building a bridge between the University and the economic sector.

“I’m delighted at so much activity that has involved not only UD faculty, staff and students, but also the community,” she noted.

Senior Vice President Guofeng Chen from Xiamen University presented a beautiful plaque as a gift to the Confucius Institute and extended his congratulations on its achievements. 

So far, the Confucius Institute has involved 510 students from UD, Lincoln University and four public schools in 27 classes, including Chinese language, history, calligraphy, painting, folk dance, taiji and martial arts. Another 5,000 people, from UD and the surrounding community, have attended 14 cultural events hosted by the institute, from a Chinese film series to performances by the Jilin University Art Troupe.

“We wish the Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware continued and best development and its students every success, bringing the Chinese and American people closer together,” Chen said.

“We are thankful for the strong support the University has provided us. We also thank Xiamen University for providing faculty support and various assistance that have made possible the implementation of many of our initiatives,” said Confucius Institute Director Jianguo Chen. “We look forward to more accomplishments along the Path to Prominence.”

The Confucius Institute is more than meeting its goals, according to Debbie Dintenfass and Rosanne Murphy. Both are residents of Newark, Del., and are enrolled in classes offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Delaware in Wilmington. 

Dintenfass noted that her calligraphy class is “very good for your health because you have to really concentrate and block out everything else. It’s very meditative,” she said of the art form.

As a retired teacher, Murphy said she appreciates the great respect that Chinese students have for their teachers. She also noted that her Chinese language class is “a time of meeting and understanding each other. The best part is that we’re giving to each other — it’s a true cultural exchange.”

Dintenfass added, “It’s just a treasure to have this institute in Delaware. I hope it expands — it’s a great outreach program.”

In addition to displays of Chinese calligraphy by UD students and their teachers, the evening featured a spectacular Chinese lion dance by the Penn Lions of the University of Pennsylvania; solos by UD violin virtuoso Xiang Gao and by New York musician Judy Yeh on the Chinese guzheng; traditional Chinese dances by the Dragonfly Dance Club; demonstrations of taiji by UD faculty, Changquan fist martial art by the Hockessin Community Chinese School, taiji swordsmanship and the Chinese tea ceremony by the Confucius Institute faculty; and the comic dialogue “Learn to Speak Chinese” by UD students.

Article by Tracey Bryant

Photos by Ambre Alexander

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