CPPCC member Mdm. Xu Lin: Establish the Academy for Confucius Institute Directors as soon as possible

[Source]    GMW.cn [Time]    2015-04-15 17:35:57 

Editor’s note: While attending the third session of the 12th National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) as a CPPCC member, Mdm. Xu Lin, Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Director General of Hanban, was jointly interviewed by reporters form GMW.cn and CPPCCnews.com.


Reporter: Hello, Mdm. Xu! Thank you very much for taking this joint interview by GMW.cn and CPPCCnews.com. In this year’s conference, are your proposals still about the popularization of Chinese culture at Confucius Institutes?

Xu Lin: Yes, you are right. My key proposal for this year’s conference is to suggest that the Academy for Confucius Institute Directors should be established as soon as possible. Since Confucius Institutes are collaborative projects by China and the foreign host country, we have both Chinese and foreign directors to represent the two sides. However, in the last ten years, we could only offer temporary training programs to directors now and then like scattering blossoms from the sky or press-ganging people whomever we can find. We haven’t established a standard, systematic and formal training system. Therefore, my proposal is that we should have our own training center, a place where we can train our personnel, like the prestigious Whampoa Military Academy,.

My second proposal is to suggest appropriately relaxing the limits on both the number of visiting abroad and days of visits for leading officials of universities. The Confucius Institute is not a show, which is done when it finishes. On the contrary, it conducts close contact with the mainstream society, teachers and students on campus, and local government in host countries every day, every hour, and even every minute. In such a process of exchange and integration, disagreements, confrontations, and even conflicts sometimes arise. Some of the conflicts could not be solved by directors or teachers, but should be addressed by leading officials of the universities. It is highly possible that conflicts can be settled and problems don’t arise when presidents of the Chinese universities exchanges their views with their foreign counterparts, because they are able to handle conflicts at a better level. However, at present, many presidents and CPC party secretaries of our universities have limited number of visiting abroad and days of visits. In my opinion, such limits on regular visits are reasonable. But Confucius Institute is different since it is public diplomacy and showcases China’s soft power. It is the normal work in the field of conducting exchange between Chinese culture and diversified cultures of the world. So, it should be treated the same as diplomatic missions. Whenever there is a need, presidents of Chinese partner universities should go to the foreign host countries to solve problems. Otherwise it will be difficult to carry out our work smoothly.

Reporter: Thank you! You have just mentioned Confucius Institute. Many people tend to compare it with some foreign organizations like Goethe Institute. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Confucius Institutes?

Xu Lin: The most obvious difference between Confucius Institute and other international language organizations is that those foreign organizations are independently established without collaborating with local organizations. Confucius Institutes, on the other hand, are hosted by local institutions and our Chinese side only plays an assisting role. So, Confucius Institute is not just a virtual mechanism, but also a practical and feasible one in collaborative education. At Confucius Institutes, Chinese and foreign teachers, and Chinese and foreign directors meet every day, every hour, and even every minute to discuss issues so as to decide on future development of Confucius Institutes. This is a unique and innovative model. The best effect of such a model on China is that we could expose all information, including our rules and regulations, our path and our theory, to foreign host countries in a transparent and comprehensive manner through ourselves and our teaching. It will enable everyone to realize that we all have the same pursuit, which is the pursuit for happy life, harmony, peace and wisdom. Thanks to such a good model, a total of 1,200 Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms have been established in 129 countries in the last ten years. Many language institutions of other countries are all quite envious of our achievement, but they all agree that this is a sound model, because it provides a platform to conduct close, direct and constant exchange and integration with local cultures. It is unlike the Goethe Institute and French Alliance, which could only enroll students but could not involve themselves into the communities. In our model, we start everything in foreign host countries and establish Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms at local universities or local educational institutions, which reduces a great deal of trouble.

Reporter: At present, what we are concerned about is that the teaching staff of Confucius Institutes is not quite stable. What do you think could be done to maintain a stable teaching staff?

Xu Lin: It is a very good question, a critical one, which I myself am worried about. In the last ten years, our programs at all foreign universities were conducted on a five-year term. Thus, for these programs that are expected to finish in five years, there is no need for full-time teachers. But, after being implemented for two five-year terms, Confucius Institute is considered by both China and foreign countries as a really efficient model to achieve a win-win situation for both sides. Then, both sides hope to build a team of full-time teachers. In the last two years, with the support from the Ministry of Finance, we recruited 300 outstanding volunteer Chinese teachers as reserved teachers to work at different universities and schools. They will become full-time teachers. But 300 is nowhere near enough, and we need at least 3,000. In this sense, there is a long way to go and it will take time. The orientation or concept of full-time teachers itself is a sign to improve the quality and level of Confucius Institutes. Our Confucius Institutes will flourish with lasting vitality when full-time teachers and part-time teachers work in perfect collaboration.

Reporter: Thank you very much, Mdm. Xu.

Story by Zheng Yi/Photos by Zhan Zhao from GMW.cn


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