Students at Downes Elementary School celebrated the Chinese New Year on Friday with the help of UD's Confucius Institute. 

Chinese New Year

Confucius Institute rings in Chinese New Year with a February full of outreach programs


1:44 p.m., Feb. 22, 2016--Since its inception in 2010, the University of Delaware’s Confucius Institute (CI) has become the home and hub of Chinese culture, art, and language on campus and around the state of Delaware.

The Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, the longest and most important of Chinese holidays, began on Feb. 8 in accordance with the Chinese zodiac. During the 15 days of celebration that follow, the institute has collaborated with local businesses and schools throughout the state for more than a dozen events aimed at educating and engaging the community on Chinese culture and history. 

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On Friday, with the help of CI, students in Downes Elementary School’s Chinese language immersion program celebrated the Year of the Monkey with dancing, songs and a skit narrating the story of the Chinese zodiac animals. 

The program at the Newark school currently serves more than 130 students in kindergarten through second grade, and will grow by grade each year. In addition to helping organize events like this, Confucius Institute staff members provide “more than 150 hours of language immersion instruction assistance to students at Downes on a weekly basis,” said Carrie Fang, CI’s program manager.

“Besides the language ability, the program introduces students to a culture that is quite foreign to most of them. So it's really an extensive social studies exploration as well,” said Eve Buckley, UD assistant professor of history whose son participates in Downes’ immersion program. “My son is certain that he will move to China as an adult, which I figure is a sign of how much he has enjoyed his exposure to Chinese language, people and culture.”

CI has also partnered with major banking institutions, the King of Prussia Mall, Wilmington Friends School, Caesar Rodney High School, Archmere Academy, Unionville Elementary School, the Conrad Schools of Science, Delaware Christian Academy, New Castle Elementary School, Delaware State University, and the Delaware Chinese American Association, among others, to host Chinese New Year events. 

On Thursday, Feb. 25, the first installment of this year’s Fulbright Lecture Series will feature Xiaoyan Xiao, co-director of the Confucius Institute. In her lecture, Xiao, a professor of foreign languages and literatures at Xiamen University, will discuss how her passion for language led her to research the status of the Chinese deaf community, the largest of its kind in the world. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in the Gore Recital Hall of UD’s Roselle Center for the Arts, with a reception to follow.  Registration is encouraged and all are welcome to attend. 

As a grand culmination of the month’s festivities, CI will present its annual Chinese New Year Gala on Saturday, Feb. 27. The event, open to everyone, will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Mitchell Hall. 

Performers from the University community, local schools and the greater Delaware area will come together to highlight traditional Chinese singing, folk and pop dances, musical instruments, Chinese crosstalk (Xiangsheng), martial arts, a magic show, and more.

“Public engagement and community outreach constitutes one of the most important missions of the Confucius Institute,” said Jianguo Chen, CI director. “Through initiating a wide array of Chinese language and cultural activities, the institute helps promote international educational opportunities on campus and beyond. We look forward to more opportunities to serve campus and local communities and strive to contribute our share to Delaware Will Shine.”  

Tickets are being sold online and may be available at the door depending on availability. For full details on pricing and to reserve tickets in advance, visit the event site.

Those with interest can follow @UDConfucius on Twitter for the latest updates. To learn more about the Confucius Institute, its on-campus events or community outreach activities, visit the CI website, call 302-831-7188/7190 or email  

About the Confucius Institute

The Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware, a partner with Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters and Xiamen University, strives to promote Chinese language and culture throughout the University community and general public.

In order to facilitate cross-cultural understanding, promote international educational opportunities, and improve academic collaboration in the Delmarva region, CI initiates and organizes a wide array of language and cultural activities, sponsors academic and scholarly exchange programs, and provides information and consultative services in China’s education, culture and business.  

Article by Nikki Laws

Photos by Jamie Powell and Elizabeth Adams

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