Remarks by President Runte on the Opening Ceremony of the Confucius Institute at Carleton University

[Source]    Confucius Institute at Carleton University [Time]    2012-05-17 16:18:49 

Distinguished Mr. Li Changchun,

Honoured guests and hosts,

It is a privilege, Mr.Li to receive your visit and that of your colleagues the Ministers of … In recalling some of Confucius’ famous words, I note that he wrote: It is a delight to have friends come from afar. I am sure that Confucius might never have imagined that a friend could travel as far as you have in so short a time. Air travel has compressed distances and thus we are all neighbours. The technological progress made in the world is remarkable. Yet, some things, like human relations and never change. The Canadian media guru, Marshall McLuhan, is famously quoted (and some say misquoted) for having said, “the media is the message.” Technology makes the world smaller. It transmits our messages with incredible rapidity. The message is not, however, information technology. It is what information technology can do to promote the goals of human kind, to improve our lives and to allow us to understand each other better and to learn. This brings me back to Confucius who said it is a “pleasure to learn.” Indeed.

By making this Confucius Institute possible you have not only offered us the delight of your visit but the pleasure of learning. Far too many North Americans speak only one language or at best, two. Far too few speak Mandarin or Cantonese or any of the numerous dialects.

I truly believe that we must correct this situation. If we are to become economic partners and to improve trade relations, we need to be able to communicate directly without the assistance of translators. If we are to benefit from the centuries of wisdom held in the libraries of each nation, Canada and China, if we are to challenge our researchers to work together to imagine the next step after cloud computing, if we are to solve the problems of sustainability, the environment, and health we need to be able to do more than say Ni hao!

Our students have already proven their ability to learn the Chinese language. Recently we were privileged to hear one of our students recite a rap poem which he had written himself in Mandarin while yet another played music, fulfilling another wise edit by Confucius: Let a man be stimulated by poetry and perfected by music.

Having a Confucius Institute on campus will make available additional courses in Chinese for our students. It will make courses in language and culture available to business persons, government personnel and staff from Embassies representing the nations of the world who are stationed in Ottawa and who plan to travel to China.

This Institute opens a door to understanding, travel, business, tourism, shared intellectual and cultural activities. We are grateful to you, to the Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters and to your government for your support of this initiative. We have already begun to work with our sister institutions in China. We have begun collaborations in the domain of technology and its applications which will allow us to communicate to audiences much larger than those in our classrooms.

Han Yu, who lived in China from 768-824, wrote that when a person sits at the bottom of a well, his horizons are very limited. Your gift has raised the level of the water and allowed us to reach across the oceans and share new thoughts and new horizons with our colleagues. We believe that together we can continue to expand the horizons of people both in Canada and China by establishing good basic human understanding and by insuring the ability to communicate well.

I thank you once again and I thank our fine Mayor, His Worship Jim Watson, for having made his chambers available to us during this time when our students are in exams. A university is a strong and vital part of a community and we are pleased to serve Ottawa and to be, in turn served, by our excellent Mayor and City Council.

Thank You!