The Dragonfly Dancers of UD's Drangonfly Dance Club, a registered student organization.

Glimpse of China

Confucius Institute helps Governor's School students experience Chinese culture

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9:23 a.m., July 27, 2011--Last week, Delaware high school students attending the Governor's School for Excellence walked into a room filled with pots of oolong tea, spring rolls, kung fu demonstrations and the beautiful music of a Chinese zither, known as a guzheng. They weren't in China; they were in Pencader Hall on the University of Delaware campus, and they were being treated to a presentation by representatives of UD's Confucius Institute.

The Governor's School students, chosen to represent their schools for their abilities in academics, art, music and theatre, attended the week-long program designed to enhance their abilities, expose them to a taste of college life and introduce them to new ways of thinking. The Confucius Institute's program was one of many that they attended during the week.

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During the two and one-half hour long presentation, members of the Confucius Institute set up eight "culture corners" for the Governor's School students to visit. One exhibit taught the traditional tea pouring ceremony, another how to make a spring roll. There were presentations on Chinese calligraphy and traditional brush painting, traditional music and folk dance, and martial arts. In the games corner, students learned to play the Chinese yo yo (kongzhu).

One of the student members of the Confucius Institute, Wenbai Li, explained to Governor's School students the techniques of traditional Chinese brush painting. "You are trying to capture the feeling of it, with few strokes, just black ink. Chinese art is very simple, just like Chinese culture values simplicity." 

Li had studied art for several years in China, and so brought with him many of the traditional elements of Chinese painting to the classes he teaches at the Confucius Institute.

The UD students who presented the culture exhibits are all volunteers of the Confucius Institute: Walter Hu (Chinese cuisine); Ming Wu and Linda Qiu (Chinese tea ceremony), Jing Shang and Chang Gao (Chinese calligraphy); Wenbai Li (traditional Chinese brush painting); Yue Liu, Xiaole Sun and Bohan Zhu (traditional Chinese music); Chen Chen and Yu Zhu (games corner), Adrian Lee (kung fu circle); and members of the Dragonfly Dance Club, a UD registered student organization (Chinese folk dance). 

Confucius Institute program coordinator Marion Bernard-Amos was the chairperson for the event.

The Confucius Institute aims to develop and promote Chinese language and culture at the University. The institute also offers certificate programs in Chinese for the Delaware community, and hosts special programs like the Moon Festival. For more information about UD's Confucius Institute, visit the website.

The institute is a partnership between the University of Delaware and Xiamen University in Xiamen, China. According to Hanban/Confucius Institute headquarters, China first created a Confucius Institute in 2004 due to public interest in China and its role in the world's economy and culture. Today, there are 316 Confucius Institutes around the world, including 66 in the United States.

The Delaware Governor's School for Excellence began in 1979 and is currently in its 32nd year of hosting Delaware high school students in this one-week residential program. Governor's School is sponsored by the Office of the Governor in cooperation with the Delaware Department of Education and UD's Division of Professional and Continuing Studies. For details on the Governor's School, see the website.

Article by Kim Fabian, 2011 Governor's School Resident Assistant

Photos by Evan Krape

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