This weekend, Western Kentucky University will host the first joint meeting of the U.S. Confucius Institutes ever held in the U.S.
The Bowling Green meetings are Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center and the Sloan Convention Center.
Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, as a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, is committed to providing Chinese language and cultural teaching resources and services worldwide, according to the Hanban website.
Madame Xu Lin, director-general of Hanban and chief executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters since 2004, will address the Saturday afternoon meeting. More than 260 people representing more than 85 U.S. Confucius Institutes across the United States are expected to attend.
Events are also scheduled for the Sloan Convention Center on Sunday and Monday.
“Hosting the American Confucius Institute Conference in Bowling Green and at WKU is both an honor and a serious undertaking,” said WKU President Gary Ransdell in an email. “Bringing officials from the Chinese Education Ministry and from the Embassy in Washington to Bowling Green along with some 200 university presidents, chief academic officers and Confucius Institute directors, presents a rare opportunity for our community,” Ransdell said.
“Our Confucius Institute is at the core of WKU’s international reach. This conference gives us the opportunity to highlight what we are doing while also learning from successful Confucius Institutes across our nation. We are fortunate to enjoy a great partnership with the Education Ministry while creating wonderful opportunities for WKU students and the broader community to engage in Chinese learning and programming. Hosting this conference will further strengthen an already strong partnership between WKU, the Chinese government and schools throughout our region. This is an important moment for WKU’s priority for internationalization,” Ransdell said.
“While we are a newer Institute, we have made some major strides, and being selected as the host site for this conference is indicative of that,” Wei-Ping Pan, conference chairman for the 2013 Joint Meeting of U.S. Confucius Institutes in Bowling Green, said in an email.
Pan is the former director of the Confucius Institute at WKU, now a retired professor at the university.
“Most importantly, having all of the U.S. Confucius Institutes under one roof will allow each CI to not only showcase their individual programming, but to share their experiences in a collaborative setting and truly learn from each other,” Pan said. “The Confucius Institute at WKU has developed a new innovative and economic mode called the Chinese Culture Experiences to promote the Chinese Language and Culture ‘on the road.’ The mobile unit not only gives the students the chance to view, but to touch, and interact.”
The Confucius Institute opened in April 2010. The number of students registered in the program has increased from 1,600 to 9,888, and the number of Chinese teachers has increased from 10 to 36, a release said.
WKU and the University of Kentucky both host Confucius Institutes on their campuses. They are the only two in Kentucky.
The Confucius Institute recently opened two Confucius classrooms, one in Simpson County and one at Barren County High School. A third Confucius classroom is scheduled to open at the Housing Authority of Bowling Green on Wednesday.
“We are always searching for opportunities to engage and share about the Chinese language and culture in an appealing manner,” Pan said. “Thus, all three affiliated Confucius Classrooms – Franklin-Simpson County, Barren County and Housing Authority of Bowling Green – are anchors in the community for Chinese culture and language and will further the mission of the Confucius Institute at WKU.”
During the 2012-13 academic year, the Confucius Institute at WKU became the first in Kentucky to award 17 Hanban Chinese teachers with official Kentucky Teacher Certification by Kentucky’s Education and Professional Standards Board, a release said.
Expected to attend the Saturday session are Ransdell; U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green; state Reps. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, and Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green; and Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney McPhee.