How Does Confucius Institute Play Its Features Well?

[Source]    People’s Daily Overseas Edition [Time]    2018-12-19 16:16:00 

In 2017, Guo Moruo Exhibition Hall was unveiled at the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University. Students taking pictures.

In September 2018, a tour from China performed at the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University. Inspired by the show, the teachers and students of the Department of Music of Suez Canal University rehearsed Chinese songs with Egyptian musical instruments. “This is an opportunity for us. The Confucius Institute plans to work with the Department of Music to build a music center.” Zhu Tingting, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University said that the center will be established in 2019.

By the establishment of relevant research centers, Egyptians can be more aware that the contemporary China is one of the features of the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University.

Flourishing “Chinese Plus” Projects

According to Zhu Tingting, the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University created its own features in two aspects: promoting the academic cooperation between China and Egypt and working closely with Chinese companies in Egypt.

In November this year, a Beijing urban cultural exhibition titled “Jinghua Xia’an” was held in Ismailia, Egypt. In the exhibition hall, the panels painting the appearance of both ancient and present Beijing showed the past and present of the city from different perspectives to the Egyptian people. “This is the result of cooperation with the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage. This exhibition helps the Egyptian people understand not only the much history of Beijing, but also its presence now.” Zhu Tingting said.

In fact, the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University has already established “Guo Moruo Research Center” in cooperation with Guo Moruo Memorial, and set up Guo Moruo Exhibition Hall and Laoshe Exhibition Hall in the Confucius Institute. “Based on the research center and the theme exhibitions, the Confucius Institute has also held relevant academic forums.” Zhu noted.

In addition, the Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University also works closely with Chinese companies in Egypt. Specifically, it trains talents for Chinese companies, recruits talents for local Chinese companies by holding job fairs and sets up cross-cultural training camps.

“Housing dozens of Chinese companies, the Suez Canal Economic Zone has created many job opportunities. Many Chinese companies in Egypt are willing to hire Egyptian workers who are able to speak Chinese, presenting great demands for Chinese plus inter-disciplinary talents. In 2017, the Confucius Institute also held a job fair for Chinese companies, and many Egyptian graduates were hired.” Zhu Tingting expressed.

With the rise of the Chinese Craze, Confucius Institutes around the world have continued to expand and carried out various “Chinese plus” projects. The Confucius Institute at Suez Canal University is one of the representatives.

Meeting Needs of Local Students

The Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, the first Confucius Institute in Africa, has set up the “Chinese plus vocational technologies” project. Isaac Meroka Mbeche, Director of Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi said, “The project aims to cultivate talents who are not only able to speak Chinese but also competent in technologies so as to meet the actual demands for the construction of Belt and Road Initiative. Some of the graduates of this university serve as mechanics and stewards in the trains running on the Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, some as Chinese broadcasters at Nairobi International Airport, and others as local Chinese language teachers in primary and secondary schools as well as universities and colleges in Africa.”

Founded in 2007, the Confucius Institute at the University of Melbourne has also formed its own school-running features after over ten years of development. “The cross-cultural business training program, a special course in this Confucius Institute, is very popular. For example, we have provided an automobile company’s sales staff with eight training sessions, each of which lasts for two days. The training contents include introduction to the consumption habits of Chinese consumers, the ways to greet customers, etc., which are very practical and well-designed.” Gong Zheng, Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Melbourne said, “Although there are many Chinese language training institutions in Melbourne and the competition is fierce, the Confucius Institute at the University of Melbourne offers special courses.” In her view, only by forming features can the Confucius Institute gain a firm foothold in the competition. “This is also the future development direction of the Confucius Institute.”

In recent years, every Spring Festival, Gong Zheng goes to the tourist attraction Penguin Island to conduct cross-cultural training for relevant personnel. “Some students in the class are owners of coffee shops and staff in scenic spots. They have different identities but the same goal - to better receive Chinese tourists,” said Julia Gong.

In Gong’s opinion, the Confucius Institute at the University of Melbourne is transforming its goal from “what courses to be offered to students” to “what kinds of curriculum students need”. “Only by understanding the needs of students and forming features can the Confucius Institute achieve long-term development,” noted Gong Zheng.

Building a Supporting Platform for Pragmatic Cooperation

The Development Plan of Confucius Institute (2012-2020) proposes to “adapt to the diverse needs of students and encourage the establishment of Confucius Institutes featuring business, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), martial arts, cooking, art and tourism, etc.”

The Confucius Institute Annual Development Report (2018) points out that a featured Confucius Institute is aimed at spreading Chinese language and Chinese culture with different theme culture as the starting point.

For example, the United Kingdom has established six Confucius Institutes, including one TCM Confucius Institute, three Business Confucius Institutes, one Confucius Institute focusing publishing and one Confucius Institute for Dance and Performance. It is worth mentioning that the Confucius Institute for TCM in London is the first Confucius Institute in the world featuring TCM and conducts the Chinese language education and promotes TCM health-preserving culture.

The Confucius Institute at Georgia State University in the United States has strategically positioned itself as a “Confucius Institute featured by business”. Wolfgang Schlör, Associate Provost of Georgia State University told the journalist that the development plan aims at building a bridge for business exchanges.

According to Wolfgang Schlör, the Confucius Institute at Georgia State University offers a small-classroom course of Business Chinese. “We are working with the Department of Chinese of Georgia State University to develop the Atlanta Business Chinese Certificate Program. We plan to intensively give lesson to students every weekend and issue certificates at the end of the program. We hope that this program will be officially launched in 2019.”

“Forming features is the key to run a Confucius Institute,” said Wolfgang Schlör.

(Story by Zhao Xiaoxia, People’s Daily Overseas Edition, Page 9, December 14th, 2018; Photo by

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