Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong visits Confucius Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, the US

[Source]    Hanban [Time]    2015-07-07 17:46:59 

On the afternoon of June 19, Chinese Vice Premier Madam Liu Yandong paid a visit to the Confucius Institute at the University of Pittsburgh (CI-Pitt). Accompanying officials included Yuan Guiren, Minister of Education, Li Bin, Minister of National Health and Family Planning Commission, Wang Zhigang, Secretary of the CPC Leading Group and Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Cui Tiankai, Chinese Ambassador to the US, Jiang Xiaojuan, Deputy Secretary General of the State Council, Wang Chao, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hao Ping, Vice Minister of Education, Xu Lin, Director General of Hanban and Zhang Qiyue, Chinese Consul General in New York.   

Upon her arrival at the University of Pittsburgh at three p.m., Madam Liu Yandong met with Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher in his office. They reached a consensus on further strengthening exchanges and cooperation between the two sides and inaugurated the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute (SCUPI).

Then Madam Liu went to the teaching building, where she saw the photo exhibition of achievements of the Confucius Institute, visited the teachers’ offices and had a cordial talk with some volunteer Chinese teachers. In a classroom, over 30 middle school students were learning Chinese through scenario simulation. Seeing Vice Premier Liu Yandong, everyone cheered in Chinese in unison “Huanying! Relie huanying! (Welcome! A hearty welcome!)”. Madam Liu had a nice chat with the students. She asked them “whether Chinese is a difficult language to learn” and encouraged them to work hard and be envoys of China-US people-to-people and cultural exchanges in the future.       

Having left the classroom, Liu Yandong went to the university’s auditorium, where she was greeted by warm applause of over 400 students and faculty members. Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher gave a welcome speech, speaking highly of the contributions to educational cooperation and cultural exchanges between China and the US made by the Confucius Institute. Albert J. Novak, Jr., Vice Chancellor of Pitt and Chair of the Board of the Confucius Institute, reported the overall development of the Confucius Institute over the years. Fifty students from the Confucius Classroom at Berks County High School affiliated to CI-Pitt sang a song We Welcome You. Sabine Gross, a student from the Confucius Classroom at Quaker Valley High School recounted her own experience of learning Chinese online and played a violin piece adapted from a well-known Chinese song Love Song of Kangding. Daniel Tetreault, second-prize winner of “Chinese Bridge” Speech Contest for US Students, read a famous love poem by Shu Ting entitled To the Oak Tree. Ten students from the Confucius Classroom at Valley School in Ligonier performed A Song of Peking Opera Masks, which was warmly welcomed by the audience.

After the spectacular performances, Madam Liu Yandong delivered a gracious speech. She said that at the invitation of US Secretary of State John Kerry and as the special representative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, she came to the US to attend the 7th U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) and the 6th U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE). In the coming CPE, both sides will deepen their practical cooperation in various fields, bring closer the two peoples in particular the younger generations and consolidate the public support and social foundation for the development of bilateral relations.     

In her remarks, Madam Liu underlined that language is the carrier of culture and tool for communication. Learning a new language means obtaining a key to more friends, a new world and a different future. To date, there are close to 300 million people learning English in China, and there are altogether 487 Confucius Institutes and 894 Confucius Classrooms in 132 countries all around the globe, with over 3.5 million registered students in total. The US alone has 108 Confucius Institutes and 451 Confucius Classrooms with some 300,000 registered students. These Confucius Institutes and Classrooms serve as an important platform for China-US people-to-people and cultural exchanges and evidence of emphasis placed on China-US educational and cultural communication by the US higher education institutions and education departments. If young people in both countries can master each other’s languages, the future of China-US friendly cooperation would be promising and bright.

Madam Liu Yandong commended the achievements of CI-Pitt. It is the “only one” that has gained the award of “Confucius Institute of the Year” for three times. She expressed her hope that CI-Pitt could make full use of its advantages and continue to work hard to achieve more success. On behalf of the Chinese government and Confucius Institute Headquarters, she invited 50 students and faculty members of CI-Pitt to China to participate in the “Chinese Bridge” Summer Camp, offered ten full scholarships and donated 1,000 copies of books, including those concerning Chinese culture.

Madam Liu Yandong’s speech received long-lasting warm applause. Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher presented two gifts to her on behalf of the university: a picture album of selected welcome cards handmade by 800-odd CI-Pitt students and a CI-Pitt T-shirt. Madam Liu was delighted to receive these two gifts and took a photo together with the CI-Pitt students and teachers.   

Founded in 1787, as one of the earliest top five private universities in the US, the University of Pittsburgh has trained ten Nobel Prize winners and ranks 41st in the US News 2015 Best Global University Rankings. In 2007, the university established its Confucius Institute, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, and started to offer Chinese language teaching services for local communities. By the end of 2014, CI-Pitt had opened Confucius Classrooms in seven primary and middle schools, provided 400-plus Chinese language courses, recruited over 4,700 registered students and held a variety of cultural activities attracting around 30,000 people. Thus, it has won widespread attention and praise in Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas.      


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