Xavier University of Louisiana Confucius Institute Grand Opening Celebrated on October 19-20, 2012
The Grand Opening of the Confucius Institute at Xavier University of Louisiana was celebrated on October 19, 2012. Blessed by Hanban and Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, the Confucius Institute is co-established by Xavier and Hebei Universities. It is the only such institute in the State of Louisiana. Over 300 people, including officials from the Chinese Consulate at Houston, delegation from Hebei University, officials from Louisiana and the city of New Orleans, Xavier Board of Trustees, local Chinese celebrities and entrepreneurs, Confucius Institute students, and students and faculty from local schools, attended the celebration.
In her addresses, Madame Xu Erwen, Consul General from the Chinese Consulate in Houston, spoke highly of the launch of the Confucius Institute at Xavier. In addition to being the first one in Louisiana, the institute is also the first among the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the U.S., noted by Xu. She highlighted the economic and cultural exchanges between China and the U.S. and stated that the Confucius Institute will play an important role in the fields of Sino–American educational, cultural, technological, artistic and economic exchanges and cooperation. The Confucius Institute will, too, strengthen the friendship and deepen the understanding between the two countries.
Dr. Norman C. Francis, President of Xavier University and recipient of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, expressed his heartfelt appreciation for those who have dedicated their support for the establishment of the Confucius Institute. Dr. Francis emphasized the significance of the institute in improving Sino-American cooperation and relationship.
Dr. Wang Fengming, Vice President of Hebei University, read out the Letter of Congratulations from Madame Xu Lin, Counselor of the State Council, Director General of Hanban and Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters. In the letter Madame Xu thanked the people who have contributed to the establishment of the Confucius Institute and to the promotion of Sino-US friendships. She further expressed her confidence in the Confucius Institute to become a wonderland to help people from Louisiana or even from across the U.S. to learn about China and Chinese culture. In his own speech, Dr. Wang said that the Confucius Institute is the bridge in connecting Xavier and Hebei Universities, Louisiana and Hebei Province. He thanked the friends from all walks of life for their generous support, and wished the bridge to become stronger and stronger under the joint efforts of the two institutions.
New Orleans city Mayor Mitch Landrieu expressed his enthusiastic support of the growth of the Confucius Institute at Xavier when he spoke at the Presidential Gala. He appreciated the leadership of Hanban and the support given by Hebei University and hoped that the Confucius Institute will become a window through which citizens of the Greater New Orleans area can understand China better.
Mr. Alan Wong, Chief Executive Director of China-United States Exchange Foundation, sent his letter of congratulations. He appreciated the leadership of Dr. Norman C. Francis as the President of Xavier University and paid high compliments to the opportunities the Confucius Institute will bring to the African-American students to learn about Chinese culture. The Gala also showed a taped message from Mr. Marc Morial, former Mayor of New Orleans and President & CEO of National Urban League, who recalled his motivation in planting the seeds of establishing the Confucius Institute at Xavier and the tremendous support he gave during the application. He wished the best of luck for the Confucius Institute in advancing the mutual understanding between citizens of China and the United States.
The Grand Opening of the Confucius Institute at Xavier University began with the performance of Chinese folk music, including erhu and zither. The famed American Chinese singer Niko Zhang sang beautiful songs in both Chinese and English. At the Gala, the highly-regarded New Orleans jazz band, the Dr. Michael White Quartet, performed as well, and draw lasting applauses from the audience. Grand and fabulous, the Confucius Institute Opening Ceremony was indeed an integration and embodiment of Chinese-Western cultures. After the Presidential Gala, the Confucius Institute also hosted Chinese traditional medicine and Taiji workshops on October 20, and received rave feedback from the audience. Xavier already started offering the Chinese language teaching through a local instructor Ms. Shu Peng, and now Mr. Wang Gang from Hebei University is teaching the fundamental and intermediate Chinese courses to Xavier students. Students are very enthusiastic about Mr. Wang’s interactive and dynamic language instruction.
Figure 3: Ribbon-cutting. (Right to left): Professor Zhang Yiqun, Consul & Director, Education Office from Houston Consulate; Confucius Institute Director Dr. Yu Jiang; Xavier University Board of Trustees Chair Mrs. Mary Zervigon; Xavier President Dr. Norman C. Francis; Consul General Xu Erwen; Hebei University Vice President Dr. Wang Fengming; Sister of Blessed Sacrament President Sister Patricia Suchalski.
Figure 4: The unveiling of the Confucius Institute plaque by Consul General Xu Erwen, Xavier President Norman C. Francis, and Hebei University Vice President Dr. Wang Fengming
Figure 7: HBU delegation meeting with Xavier colleagues. (Right to left): Professor Li Xiaoliu, Director of the International Office and Professor Shen Shigang, Assistant to the President at Hebei University; Dr. Marguerite Giguette, Xavier Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Wang Fengming; Dr. Norman C. Francis; Dr. Loren J. Blanchard, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Mr. Calvin Tregre, Senior Vice President for Administration; Dr. Anil Kukreja, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Kenneth St. Charles, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Xavier University
Picture 1: Xavier student Gospel Choir performing for the Confucius Institute opening