The University of Delaware's Confucius Institute for the advancement of Chinese language and culture was inaugurated Oct. 19, 2010, in an applause-filled ceremony capped by celebratory performances ranging from a violin virtuoso's serenade to a traditional Chinese lion dance.
"We thank you for making the long journey to the U.S. for this wonderful celebration and for your extraordinary dedication to the cause that's brought us together tonight," said UD President Patrick Harker to President Zhu Chongshi and his delegation from Xiamen University.
A strong collaboration between the two universities resulted in the proposal for the Confucius Institute at UD. The Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, approved the proposal and will provide continuing support for its language instruction and cultural programs. UD's Confucius Institute is one of more than 300 around the world.
The Confucius Institute will advance several of the University of Delaware's most important goals, Harker said, including expanding UD's international reach and amplifying its impact, strengthening global partnerships, and developing collaborative initiatives in international and transnational issues.
"Through the institute, we'll build interest and competence in Chinese language and culture and instigate a deeper appreciation of China's global importance not just among members of the University community, but throughout the state and region," Harker said.
Harker noted that the Confucius Institute also will build a strong bridge between the University and the private sector, fostering economic scholarship and entrepreneurship.
"Confucius, the great thinker and philosopher, proposed that harmony is the highest form of relationship between people, nations and states," noted Xiamen University President Zhu during his remarks. "This has become the most precious element of China's cultural heritage."
Building strong international partnerships has been a hallmark of Xiamen University. A leader in international education since its founding in 1921, Xiamen University has over 150 inter-institutional agreements in place for student exchanges and joint research. In one such endeavor, UD and Xiamen scientists are conducting collaborative research through the Joint Institute for Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, a partnership forged by Xiamen's College of Oceanography and Environmental Science and UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.
A new dual degree in oceanography, established when the two university presidents signed a preliminary agreement, will enable American and Chinese students to receive two doctoral degrees in oceanography, one from each institution if the degree requirements are met for each institution.
Since 2006, Xiamen University has established 11 Confucius Institutes around the world, with the twelfth now at UD, – a relationship that has blossomed rapidly since the universities' initial collaborative agreements in 2007.
"Under his strong support and commitment, the relationship is growing every day," President Zhu said of President Harker. "We will do everything in our power to aid the teaching of the Confucius Institute," he noted.
Congratulatory letters were read by First Secretary Shen Yiling on behalf of Zhang Yesui, ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the U.S., and by Jianguo Chen, director of UD's Confucius Institute, on behalf of Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters.
" 'Knowledge is the light of the mind' – the Confucius Institute will make the light ever brighter and help the people of Delaware learn the Chinese language and culture, and become a bridge of friendship between the American and Chinese people," Chen read. The University of Delaware's motto is "Knowledge is the light of the mind."
Joining Chen in the leadership of the Confucius Institute is co-director Huang Jiangjun, deputy dean of the Overseas Education College and The International College at Xiamen University. In 2011, two Chinese language instructors from Xiamen University will join the institute.
Capping the celebration, the University of Pennsylvania Lions performed the traditional Chinese Lion Dance; New York musician Judy Yeh presented "The Sparkling Galaxy" on the Chinese guzheng or horizontal harp; violin virtuoso Xiang Gao, professor of music at UD, accompanied by Marian Lee, played the "Fisherman's Serenade"; and UD's Dragonfly Dance Club, resplendent in gold costumes, performed the traditional Chinese dance "The Splendor of Dunhuang."
" 'Knowledge is the light of the mind' – the Confucius Institute will make the light ever brighter and help the people of Delaware lean the Chinese Language and culture, and become a bridge of friendship between the American and Chinese People."– Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters
Prof. Zhu Chongshi has been the president of Xiamen University since 2003. Based in the major port city of Xiamen in Fujian, China, the university has 27,000 students across 82 undergraduate programs, 219 master's programs and 134 doctoral programs. The university's mission is to advance learning, as underscored in its motto, "Pursue excellence; strive for perfection."
Zhu was born in 1954 in Fujian Province. He received his bachelor's degree in 1982 from Xiamen University and his doctoral degree in 1990 from the University of Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia. His primary research interest is economic law – the study of the social and economic relationship developed between a state and other entities in society in the course of all kinds of economic activities.
How do you see the relationship between Xiamen University and the University of Delaware developing in the future?
There is a bright future for the two universities with regard to our collaborations and exchanges, which will continue to grow and expand.
What do you think are the major strengths of the partnership between the University of Delaware and Xiamen University?
Both are outstanding major research universities that have many identical and/or similar areas and disciplines. Many of these areas and disciplines have possibilities for cooperation and exchange. This is especially so in marine studies, environmental sciences, chemistry, life science, business management, anthropology, history, etc., where there is a big potential for collaborative initiatives.
What do you feel are the keys to establishing successful international collaborations?
There are two keys. First, both should share the same understanding that a globalized campus is important. Second, there should be a foundation for collaborations; that is, there must be several areas and disciplines on both sides that have the same level of research ability. And researchers and scholars at both institutions must have an interest in collaborating.
Why is the Confucius Institute and global education, in general, important?
The objective of the Confucius Institute is to help deepen an understanding of the Chinese language and culture among people around the world and help them learn Chinese, thus promoting friendly exchange among peoples of different countries, especially among young people.
UD and Xiamen University also have established important research partnerships. What are some of the major issues that our universities can address together through research?
The University of Delaware and Xiamen University have established a first-rate joint research institute of ocean and environment sciences. Collaborations of this kind will maximize existing research resources at both institutions, yielding more and better research results. We have now seen the result of these research partnerships.
Are there arts and humanities programs that might be established through the UD-Xiamen collaborations?
The two universities will establish collaborations in such areas as business management, anthropology, history and international relations. The Confucius Institute is one such important collaborative initiative in the humanities.
The University of Delaware is continuing to globalize its campus. How does the partnership with UD benefit Xiamen University?
The University of Delaware's efforts to globalize its campus will promote collaborations and exchange between UD and Xiamen University. They will create more opportunities for Xiamen University's faculty and students to interact with their UD counterparts, thus further improving the level of academic and scholarly activities at both institutions.
The University of Delaware plans to launch a master's program in technical Chinese translation this fall in response to growing industry needs.
Three graduate-level courses in Chinese technical translation are being offered this spring. Pending approval of the University's Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees, the Graduate Program (M.A.) in Technical Chinese Translation will begin in the fall 2011 semester.
"Translation has become one of the fastest-growing professions in today's globalized world," said George Watson, dean of UD's College of Arts and Sciences. "The rapid rise of transnational business between China and the United States has necessitated the translation of vast business and scientific texts from Chinese into English. The exemplary program being developed in our Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, in collaboration with industry, will prepare students for rapid advancement in this growing field. It also will mark the first professional master's program in the humanities at UD."
Dennis O'Brien, president of China Monitor Inc., has pledged to provide full-tuition scholarships for 15 UD students and has offered the major information-processing company's base in Newark, Del., as a potential training facility. CMI recently won an exclusive license from the China Economic Information Network (CEInet) to translate and interpret data on over 100 of the most important industries and sectors of the burgeoning Chinese economy. CMI expects to initially employ more than 50 students and information-industry professionals at its Delaware operations to bring its weekly analytic reports to audiences worldwide.
The 33-credit master's program at UD will provide bilingual students with professional training in both the theory and practice of technical translation and interpretation, and will encompass journalistic writing, comparative linguistics, scientific and analytical translation, and computer-assisted translation, according to Jianguo Chen, associate professor and director of the Chinese language program at UD. Chen also directs UD's Confucius Institute.
"We are planning a rigorous curriculum that offers quality instruction from experienced translation professionals and experts who will ensure that students, upon the completion of the program, will possess a high level of bilingual proficiency, practical techniques and skills of translation, specialized knowledge and credibility, a familiarity with theories and professional aspects of translation, and a fine cultural understanding that will give them a competitive edge in the job market," Chen said.