The first Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Brazil held in Rio

[Source]    the Confucius Institute at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro [Time]    2015-11-10 14:40:19 

From September 29 to 30 (local time), the 2015 Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Brazil was held in Rio de Janeiro. As Brazil’s first joint conference, it was sponsored by Hanban and hosted by the Confucius Institute at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). Over 80 guests attended the opening ceremony, including officials of the Education Department of Rio; Wang Yongli, Deputy Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Deputy Director General of Hanban; Song Yang, Chinese Consul General in Rio; Pe. Josafá, President of PUC-Rio; Brazilian and Chinese directors of nine Confucius Institutes in Brazil; representatives of Chinese organizations in Rio and representatives of universities and colleges; as well as faculty members and students from a Portuguese-Chinese bilingual school in Brazil.   

At the opening ceremony on the evening of September 29, the conference started with a sonorous hulusi (cucurbit flute) tune, performed by students from the Portuguese-Chinese bilingual school, which was followed by a well-known Chinese folk song Jasmine. Performances with distinctive Chinese elements gave the audience a taste of the nation’s culture.

Students from the Portuguese-Chinese bilingual school playing hulusi, or cucurbit flute

As the first speaker at the conference, Pe. Josafá said, “China used to be a faraway, mysterious oriental country for the Brazilian people, but as the relations between China and Brazil continue to develop over time, China seems to get closer and closer to us. Today more and more Chinese elements can be seen in Brazil. For instance, a great many stores in Brazil have started to sell Chinese goods now. In addition to bilateral trade, the Confucius Institute has been playing a significant role in educational, academic and cultural exchanges between the two countries in recent years.”

Consul General Song Yang said in his address that language and culture are not only “golden keys” for both the Chinese and Brazilian peoples to know and understand each other but also the very foundation of bilateral ties and affinity between peoples as well. China and Brazil are both worthy of the title of “cultural power”. With admiration for each other, the two peoples hope to deepen the exchanges. He added both sides should continuously promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges and, to continue the China-Brazil friendship in the future, and create favorable conditions for the communication between young people in the two countries. Mr. Song also expressed thanks to Hanban for its unremitting efforts to deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Brazil. He said that the Chinese Embassy in Brazil would support the development of the Confucius Institute as always, and hoped that the Confucius Institute could produce more contributors to friendly cooperation between the two countries and amity between the two peoples. In conclusion, he clearly noted that Confucius Institute students would be expected to offer help to Chinese athletes during the Rio Olympics next year. 

In his keynote speech Deputy Director General of Hanban Wang Yongli said that China’s rapid economic growth would be based on exchanges with and understanding from other countries. The purpose of opening Confucius Institutes is to better present China to the rest of the world and at the same time meet the international needs to understand Chinese culture and history. Mr. Wang highlighted that Confucius Institutes would not intend to challenge other countries’ cultures or values but provide an opportunity for other peoples to know more about Chinese culture through learning the Chinese language. At present, 493 Confucius Institutes and 998 Confucius Classrooms have been established in 133 countries all over the globe. Brazil has already set up 10 Confucius Institutes and 4 Confucius Classrooms since seven years ago when its first Confucius Institute opened.

Audience at the opening ceremony

The five-part conference on September 30 kicked off with an exchange of Confucius Institutes’ management experience. The three Confucius Institutes at PUC-Rio, São Paulo State University and FAAP talked about their own characteristics and achievements concerning the following topics respectively: “cooperating with the local government and education department, and integrating into the community”, “developing and carrying out training programs for Chinese language teachers and volunteers” and “strengthening cooperation with local enterprises to expand the Confucius Institute”.  

Later the conferees exchanged ideas on four major issues: “how to improve the teaching quality of the Confucius Institute”, “how to establish Confucius Institute alumni associations”, “how to train local Chinese language teachers and develop textbooks tailored to local needs” and “how to step up the cooperation with local Chinese enterprises and education institutions”. Each participant was eager to voice his or her views on Confucius Institutes’ development by reviewing the past and looking ahead into the future.

Not only did the two-day conference enable the attendees to gain an all-round understanding of the history and current situation of Confucius Institutes in Brazil, but also it boosted their confidence in the future of the Confucius Institute. Everyone decided to enhance communication and collaboration and pool their efforts to make the Confucius Institute a strong bond connecting China and Brazil, thus making a contribution to further promoting China-Brazil relations. 

Story/Photos by Qiao Jianzhen/Wang Haili 


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