A portion of Europe’s Confucius Institutes gather in Belgium for Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Europe
The 2016 Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Europe was held on April 28 in Bruges, a city in the Belgian province of West Flanders. Delegations from 19 Confucius Institutes in 10 European countries and nearly 40 Chinese and local Directors or their representatives, as well as representatives from Confucius Institute Headquarters, were in attendance.
University College of West Flanders (Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen) rector and Confucius Institute Board of Directors Chair Lode de Geyter presided over the opening ceremony. He said the Joint Conference was a fantastic opportunity to promote cultural exchange and cooperation between Europe and China, which helps improve language teaching on both sides, and strengthens the understanding and friendly cooperation.
Lode de Geyter said the establishment of the Confucius Institute at Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen 4 years ago gave the university’s students an excellent chance to learn Chinese and better understand China. Every year students visit China for Confucius Institute events, some of whom stay in China to continue learning. His university, he says, plans to maintain long-term relationships with universities in China.
In his speech at the conference, PRC ambassador to Belgium Qu Xing said the work of language teaching and cultural education in recent years was proceeding well, with six Confucius Institutes already serving Belgium’s population of 11 million, and ever-deepening cultural ties between the two countries.
Qu Xing said that, in a world becoming more globalized by the day, dialogue between different cultures is more important than ever. Only with exchange can progress and new achievements be made, and only with exchange can the problems and challenges brought about by globalization be addressed. He said he hoped to communicate with the other forum attendees about how the Confucius Institute could become a platform for the sharing of culture and history that helps more people to learn Chinese, promotes mutual understanding between the peoples of Europe and China, and creates mutually beneficial opportunities.
Deputy Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Deputy Director General of Hanban Ma Jianfei speaking
Vito Borrelli, special representative of the head of the EU mission to the meeting of the China-EU High-Level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD) Borrelli
Deputy Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Deputy Director General of Hanban Ma Jianfei pointed out that after more than a decade of development, the Confucius Institute is entering a new phase in which the focus should be on improving quality and creating meaningful content, specifically improving the qualifications of educators, training local Chinese teachers, and improving course materials and teaching resources, but also making the standards for assessing students’ Chinese levels more scientific and designing online courses to satisfy the needs of students in different countries.
A portion of the Joint Conference of Confucius Institute members and representatives
Exterior of the provincial capital building in West Flanders, Belgium
According to sources, the Joint Conference ran for two days and focused on the theme “Person-to-Person Exchange Between the Confucius Institute and Europeans”. In-depth discussions were conducted surrounding the issues of Chinese-language education in Europe, the HSK, Chinese teacher training, and how to promote the Confucius Institute and cultural exchange. As of April 2016, there are 504 Confucius Institutes and 1,006 Confucius Classrooms around the world.
BRUGES, April 28 (Xinhua News Agency)
Journalist: Wu Changrong
Images: CRI Online