Confucius Institute prepares for launch

<p>On Oct. 22, Arizona State University will unveil the ASU-Sichuan University Joint <a href="">Confucius Institute</a>, which will be located at the Tempe campus. <br /><br />The Confucius Institute is ASU’s direct response to the need for creating a sustainable, in-depth source of knowledge about China for Arizona citizens. It is the first of its kind in the state. The partnership between ASU and Sichuan University — one of China’s most prestigious institutions and ASU’s sister university — was officially launched several months ago when ASU delegates gathered in Beijing for a signing ceremony in May. The effort is funded by a donation from Hanban, a leading Chinese foundation.<br /><br />“A great research university must focus on the needs of its immediate community, but must also be international in scope,” says ASU President Michael Crow. “ASU’s Confucius Institute partnership enhances the university’s global impact and benefits the local community by expanding our knowledge of one of the world’s great cultures and emerging economic powers.”<br /><br />It will be committed to introducing Chinese language and culture studies to elementary and secondary schools as well as to the general public in Arizona.<br /><br />The initiative includes:</p><separator></separator><p>• Collaborating on K-12 pedagogy for teaching Chinese language and culture. The institute is already working with the Mesa Public School District.<br />• Linking K-12 schools with cultural resources in the community, such as museums, cultural centers and community groups.<br />• Developing curriculums for heritage speakers of Chinese.<br />• Creating a Chinese film series that will be open to the community at large.<br /><br />“It is our sincere hope that a Confucius Institute at Arizona State University will further strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation between our people by encouraging Arizonans of all ages to study Chinese and to better understand Chinese culture and society,” says Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona. “Arizona already has many economic and cultural ties with China and we hope to expand and intensify activities and partnerships with Chinese institutions in education, business and government.”<br /><br />The Confucius Institute will become an integrated part of ASU and of the greater Phoenix community by working with several offices and academic units, including:</p><separator></separator><p>• The Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement.<br />• The new School of International Letters and Cultures and the Center for Asian Research, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.<br />• The Mary Lou Fulton College of Education.<br />• The Contemporary Chinese School of Arizona, a nonreligious, nonpolitical, nonprofit school that teaches 445 students from the ages of 5 to 16 and provides classes in conversation for professionals.<br /><br />The institute is also designed to engage academic units across ASU and Sichuan University. “Global engagement is one of the design aspirations of the New American University at ASU. In order to meet that goal, ASU is developing international partnerships in education and research to address the complex challenges before us,” says Anthony (Bud) Rock, vice president for global engagement. <br /><br />“The Confucius Institute will significantly advance the sister-institution partnership between Sichuan University and Arizona State University,&quot; says Heping Xie, president of Sichuan University and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. “It will build a bridge of understanding and friendship, and serve as a platform to enhance the cultural exchange and collaboration between Chengdu and Phoenix, and between China and the U.S.” <br /><br />The Confucius Institute is just the latest in a series of initiatives ASU is creating with Sichuan University to implement a new higher-education model that is focused on global engagement. Dozens of ASU faculty are directly involved with these efforts, many through the Confucius Institute. <br /><br />“The Confucius Institute can help create a more culturally aware and sophisticated Valley citizenry — one that can understand and influence business, professional, and government policy to create a better local world in an increasingly globalized and multilingual environment. It can prepare a wide variety of people to carry out their professional work in Chinese language which, through the Internet and other media, is becoming a worldwide language,” says Stephen West, foundation professor of Chinese in ASU’s School of Global Studies. <br /><br />Many ASU students are involved with the university’s emerging Chinese initiatives, as well. In August, ASU launched the Chinese Flagship program, a two-year intensive program designed to teach students advanced-level proficiency in modern Chinese. <br /><br />“While ASU’s current Chinese program has brought me to a culturally and academically fulfilling point in my education, the Confucius Institute will undoubtedly prove a boon for future students throughout the state,” says William Valencia, a current Supply Chain Management and Chinese double major at Arizona State. “Widespread integration of ASU’s extant cultural and language assets with the greater Phoenix community will help position ASU as a leader in the knowledge-based economy.” <br /><br />In addition to the many academic and community benefits that the Confucius Institute at ASU will create, there are many opportunities for it to impact the Arizona business world, as well. The Confucius Institute will actively seek partnerships with local business professionals and corporations to offer Chinese language education. <br /><br />&quot;The Confucius Institute will be a real asset for Arizona's business community,” says Brad Casper, president and CEO of Dial Corporation. “We must not underestimate the importance of cultural competency and language skills in engaging with the global economy – particularly China. The training programs the Institute will provide can give local businesses a significant leg-up.&quot;</p>