Feature: Third Confucius Institute opens in the Netherlands

[Source]    Xinhua [Time]    2017-07-12 14:29:24 

A third Confucius Institute in the Netherlands opened on Friday at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in the Dutch southern city of Maastricht.

The Netherlands saw the opening of its first Confucius Institute at Leiden University in 2006. In 2011, a second one opened at Groningen University in the north. Now with a third one at Zuyd University, a new door is open, said Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands Wu Ken at the opening ceremony.

"The Institute will open a new door for the Dutch people, the young people in particular, to the Chinese culture. I am sure more and more ambassadors of Sino-Dutch friendship will be born from here," said the ambassador.

"Confucius was a great philosopher and pedagogue in China. An institute named after Confucius embodies the goodwill of the Chinese people to communicate more and go forward together with people around the world. Confucius Institute belongs to China, it also belongs to the world," added the Chinese diplomat.

Like the other hundreds of Confucius Institutes in the world, this third one in the Netherlands is also a joint project between the host university and a Chinese one, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics (DUFE) in northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Theo Bovens, Governor of the Province of Limburg, of which Maastricht is the center city, was happy to see the added value brought by a Confucius Institute to his region.

"We are the most international province of the Netherlands, a great bridge or springboard to the rest of Europe. This international orientation makes us like to make links further abroad, in this case for example to China, around 8,000 kilometers away from here," he said.

Quoting Confucius as saying "all people are the same, it's only their customs that differ" as well as European thinker Ludwig Wittgenstein who said "the borders of my language are the borders of my world," the governor wished this Confucius Institute lots of success in helping people who want to expand their borders.

For Mayor of Maastricht, Annemarie Penn-te Strake, her city "cannot do without the presence of the new Confucius Institute as this institute lays the foundation to further expand and strengthen the cooperation between China and Maastricht."

"This is definitely our ambition. It is the lacking but important link for the exchange in the field of education and innovation. And the institute also opens the gate to China for entrepreneurs, organizations and individuals with an interest in the Chinese market or culture from Maastricht. It provides broad support for our cooperation," she said.

At Zuyd University, Chinese language teaching is not new. "We have for more than 30 years professional language and culture education, including Chinese as an important language, by a dozen of very passionate and very motivated teachers. Chinese language education seems to be in our DNA," said Chairman of ZUYD, Karel van Rosmalen, who called the establishment of Confucius Institute a long-cherished wish.

Rob Kuster, Director of the newly-established Confucius Institute, couldn't help being emotional. The 53-year-old man has been passionate for oriental languages since teenage. Graduated from Leiden University in late 1980s, he started teaching Chinese at Zuyd University in 2005.

When Limburg and his university multiplied exchanges with Chinese regions years ago, Rob and his colleagues started looking into the opportunity of having a Confucius Institute set up at their campus.

"It happened all bottom-up in this case. Quite an achievement. There are already more than 500 Confucius Institutes and about 700 applications by universities around the world to get the next institute each year. This year we are one of the five or six applications who are successful. We are very happy. All the work that we have done was not in vain," he told Xinhua.

Kuster planned to bring the study of Chinese language and culture to a wider audience. "We have been teaching Chinese to colleague and university students. Now it will reach a much wider audience to include companies, organizations, government, ect. In short, for everybody outside across the street who is interested in Chinese culture or is planning a trip to China."

"This is our chance and challenge: make Chinese language and culture available for everybody who is interested," he said. Enditem

(MAASTRICHT, The Netherlands, July 7 Xinhua by Liu Fang, Dong Chen)


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