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Washington State's new Confucius Institute opens

Submitted by Arts & Sciences Web Team on June 1, 2010 - 12:00am

AL&L is pleased to play a role in the new Confucius Institute of the State of Washington (CI-WA), which was formally established in April. The State of Washington’s Institute joins the ranks of more than 250 Confucius Institutes around the world and is the product of four years of planning and collaboration among the State of Washington, public school systems and colleges across the state, and Hanban, a non-profit organization affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education. Planning for the Institute’s creation was initiated following Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington in 2006. The goals of the Confucius Institute include promoting and supporting Chinese language learning throughout the state, improving articulation of Chinese language instruction across all levels from kindergarten through university, sponsoring China-related cultural events, and facilitating faculty, student, and research exchanges. Members of the AL&L faculty have been involved in the planning process from the beginning.

Department Chair Michael Shapiro observes that “in the coming years, the need for greater articulation between what happens in K-12 classrooms and what happens in four-year colleges will certainly increase. AL&L has an important role in areas such as teacher training and certification, as well as curriculum development. The establishment of the new Confucius Institute will make it easier for AL&L and other units both on and off campus to work collaboratively to increase articulation for Chinese language instruction throughout the state.”

The collaborative nature of the Institute is reflected in its structure. The Institute’s administrative office is located at the University of Washington under the supervision of the Institute’s Chair of the Board of Directors and the University’s Vice Provost of Global Affairs, Stephen Hanson. The Institute’s Education Center is housed within the Seattle Public Schools system. The University is primarily responsible for program and web resource support, while the Education Center will focus on classes for teachers and students, administrative functions, and outreach programs.

Already the Institute has sponsored a talk at the University by Prof. Jeffrey Wasserstrom from the University of California at Irvine and a workshop on the AP Chinese language and culture exam for Chinese teachers throughout the state of Washington. AL&L, for its part, is contributing time and expertise to the endeavor. Currently, Prof. Zev Handel and Senior Lecturer Nyan-Ping Bi serve on the Institute’s Educational Advisory Board. Ms. Bi helped coordinate the AP workshop in April. She states, “It is natural that the University should get involved to understand what secondary school teachers need and what challenges they face because eventually their students will become our students.”

Upcoming events include a summer book club for educators and a workshop on U.S.-China relations. See the Confucius Institute's homepage for more information on the Confucius Institute, updated lists of upcoming events, or to sign up for the electronic newsletter.

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