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Maryland University Marks Confucius Institute Day
   2014-09-27 11:28:58    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Luo Dan

Children perform Chinese folk dance at the University of Maryland to mark the Confucius Institute Day on September 26, 2014. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/He Fei]

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Friday marks the 10th anniversary of Confucius Institute, a non-profit organization aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture. Celebrations are held all over the globe. Let's follow our Washington correspondent He Fei to join the birthday party in University of Maryland, where the first Confucius Institute was built ten years ago.

 

The Happy Birthday song kicks off the one-day celebration of the Confucius Institute Day on the campus of the University of Maryland. The President of the university Wallace Loh is proud that his university is leading the ten-year development in the US.

"Confucius said that to move a mountain, you have to move a few stones. And so for the few stones that we moved right here in college park, a whole mountain has been moved, some four hundred Confucius Institutes around the country."

As Mr. Loh has mentioned, starting from the University of Maryland, now there are 100 Confucius Institutes and more than 350 Confucius classes across the United States. And according to the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, about 850,000 people have registered in the classes or institutes globally.

Donna Wiseman is the director of Confucius Institute at the University of Maryland.

"Each year we touch about a thousand students through our Confucius classrooms and that's who you see around here are these elementary and middle school and high school students."

The birthday party has been joined by students of all ages, who have shown their achievements in learning Chinese. Singing Chinese songs, performing folk Chinese dances, and reciting and explaining quotes of the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, all have a lot of fun in learning about the remote country, China.

The learning experience with the Confucius Institute opens a whole new window to Olivia Brann. Attracted by the language and culture, the 23-year old even went to China to learn the Huangmei Opera. And now her dream is to find a way to connect the two countries through arts.

"I wanna find a job that helps me connect the United States and China via the arts so we can have a more artistic relationship because a lot of students here are very focused on the economy and business and government, I think you can use art to really create a very strong bonds."

Now a postgraduate of the University of Maryland, majored in English-Chinese translation, Nathaniel Hart Goldstein is a frequent volunteer and student at the university's Confucius Institute. Although started by chance, the young man said as he grew older, he felt more into the language and he would like to be a translator in the future. He believes the Confucius Institute is a good way to introduce China as a real person instead of a threatening rising power.

"A lot of people are worried about China's rise and the Confucius Institute in some ways can help teach people about Chinese people and about the language and history. Everyone in the media so focused on what's going on in the South China Sea with the Philippines, the Vietnam, I think it is important that we remember that there are people in China too. I think that's very important."

For the next ten years, Director Donna Wiseman says she would like to see more exchanges between the two countries especially among younger generations.

For CRI, I'm He Fei in Washington. 
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