A Confucius Institute representative leads Ursuline students in a folk dance.

Educational partners

Confucius Institute travels to Ursuline Academy to celebrate Chinese culture

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11:24 a.m., March 21, 2014--The Confucius Institute (CI) at the University of Delaware entertained students from Ursuline Academy with a Chinese New Year show and a demonstration showcasing traditional Chinese art and dancing during a visit to the Wilmington school on Wednesday, March 19.

The show included various performances integrating a form of martial arts called Changquan, folk dances, Chinese instruments, calligraphy and painting. 

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The interactive program had students dancing and enjoying themselves while learning about a Chinese holiday and celebration. 

During the opening performance called Yangee, about 30 students were invited to learn the traditional dance that involved spinning red handkerchiefs. In another presentation, students were encouraged to practice Changquan with extended kicks and striking techniques.

After a calligraphy and painting demonstration, two lucky students were chosen at random to receive a traditional Chinese painting of bamboo, and calligraphy from Jianjuan Huang, CI co-director, that reads, “The spring is back.”

“The students in the Lower School loved it. They were able to participate and also they understood what was being said,” said Lisa Clody, Ursuline early childhood and lower school principal.

CI and Ursuline are educational partners in providing Chinese language instruction and cultural presentations to students. In August 2013, CI began providing Ursuline with a full-time teacher to start the Chinese program offering both language and culture classes to K-12th grade students. 

There are more than 100 students in the school benefiting from the program. In the middle and upper school, students have the option to select Latin, French, Spanish or Chinese language courses.

“We are very thankful and the principals have been very supportive,” said Carrie Fang, program coordinator at CI. “It has been a very pleasant collaboration.”

“We live in a global society and need to understand the culture of other people and countries,” said Carolyn Zogby, Ursuline middle and upper school principal. “This allows us the opportunity to understand others and to better communicate with all.” 

Cultural programs offer students the opportunity to explore a language and culture and also reinforce what they have been learning in class. 

Clody said she hopes student take away “an appreciation for the culture and language,” and realize that the language is not as daunting as it may appear.

The CI has partnered with 11 different schools and learning centers in Delaware and Pennsylvania with students ranging from kindergartners to senior retirees.

“One of our most important missions is to promote Chinese language and culture in Delaware, as well as in the Delmarva region,” said Jianguo Chen, director of the Confucius Institute. “ We are delighted to be able to contribute to local communities.” 

Over the years, the Confucius Institute at UD has received multiple awards including the Spirit of Caesar Rodney Volunteer Award from the Caesar Rodney School District for its partnership with McIlvaine Early Childhood Center and the Distinguished Community Support Award from Delaware Chinese American Association for two consecutive years.

Article by Elizabeth Adams

Photos by Carrie Fang

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