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April 7, 2011 Volume 32, No. 26

Confucius Institute to bolster university’s cultural and business ties with China


Partnership will foster understanding, increase student opportunities

The University of Missouri has deep ties with the People’s Republic of China, stretching back to the early 1900s when journalism schools in China were founded using the Missouri Model. The relationship continued when Edgar Snow, a Mizzou alumnus and correspondent, became the first journalist to fully immerse himself in Chinese in order to report on communism.

This year, the partnership between MU and China will strengthen more with the formation of The Confucius Institute at the University of Missouri.

The Confucius Institute, the 83rd of its kind in the United States, will be introduced to the university and local community Friday with a children’s concert and an official ceremony attended by more than a dozen Chinese dignitaries, including President Jin Li of Shanghai Normal University, China, MU’s partner in the institute.

Headquartered in Beijing, the institute is part of a larger non-profit organization that collaborates with universities all over the world. MU’s Confucius Institute will offer Chinese language courses and proficiency exams, teaching certificates and classes in Chinese business etiquette. The institute will provide networking opportunities for students, and institute staff — Chinese and American academics from MU and Shangahi Normal — will work with other campus organizations to plan cultural activities and events.

According to Handy Williamson, vice provost for International Programs and Strategic Initiatives, the courses and events offered by The Confucius Institute will benefit both MU and the state of Missouri.

“It will enrich education and the lives of people and community members who elect to get involved,” he said. “It will be a visibly friendly place for people from other countries and will show that MU is an internationally welcoming community.”

In addition to helping MU expand its cultural horizons, the institute will also play an important role in improving the state’s business and trade relationship with China, leading to greater employment opportunities for students, Williamson said.

“Students can learn a language, get internships, and can become more attractive to employees, which will enable them to become more competent in their future endeavors,” he said. “We can all collectively help Missouri to be more competitive in international business and trade.”

One of Williamson’s favorite mantras is, “It is through others that we become known.” He hopes that the institute will help the MU community to learn more about not only another culture, but also our own in the process.

Friday’s official launch of the Confucius Institute begins at 10 a.m. in Jesse Auditorium with a folk music concert, featuring musicians from China and MU’S School of Music. At 2:30 p.m., Chancellor Brady J. Deaton will host other MU officials, Sen. Christopher S. “Kit” Bond and a group of Chinese dignitaries at the official opening ceremony.

Schedule of Events

Celebration Concert

10 a.m. in Jesse Auditorium

“A Salute to Music – The Universal Language”

  • Performance by the Chinese Folk Music Band of Shanghai Normal University and MU’s School of Music.

Opening Ceremony

2:30 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium

“Welcome to China in the Midwest”

  • Plaque unveiling, gift exchange and ribbon cutting ceremony;
  • Chinese Folk Music Performance;
  • Video Presentation of Shanghai Expo;
  • Speakers, including Sen. Kit Bond.