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Confucius Institute Coming to Morris

Posted by Jenna Ray on Monday, May. 12, 2014


A satellite office of the Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota (CIUMN) is coming to the Morris campus. As a part of the University of Minnesota’s outreach mission, CIUMN serves communities statewide by delivering educational programs that connect them to Chinese language and culture in meaningful ways.

CIUMN offerings include cultural and language training for the business community, professional development training and support for Chinese language teachers, and language and cultural programming for campuses and the general public. The program will be implemented in Morris this fall, thanks to the efforts of Pilar Eble, assistant director of equity, diversity, and intercultural programs, and Viktor Berberi, assistant professor and director of the Hasselmo Language Teaching Center.

While Eble and Berberi are still in the process of establishing a Morris satellite office, they have secured a three-year faculty position in Chinese language and culture. Beginning in August, a Chinese language instructor will teach an English-language elective course on Chinese culture as well as courses in beginning Chinese. These will be the campus’s first Chinese-language offerings since 2012.

“There’s a demand here, particularly with our Chinese student population,” says Eble. “If we can have more education about Chinese language and culture, we can bridge any intercultural gaps we have on our campus.”

“I think it will increase awareness of the value of Chinese language,” adds Berberi. “If students see that the University values it enough to offer it, they could perceive Chinese students differently.”

Eble believes the CIUMN program will also have a positive impact on study abroad. She expects students will be more likely to study at one of the two Chinese universities with which Morris has exchange partnerships (Capital Normal University and Shanghai University) now that they are once again able to gain a basic understanding of the Chinese language on campus.

Part of the CIUMN instructor’s role will be to conduct outreach activities with Morris Area Schools and local business leaders and to organize cultural events for the community. According to Berberi, the opportunity to learn more about Chinese business and agriculture will be a welcome benefit to the surrounding area. Eble agrees and adds that the benefits could be even more widespread.

“Our international students are part of this community, and they impact the community,” she says. “As a university, if we can provide more intercultural programming for community members, all the better.”

A collaborative initiative between the University of Minnesota, the Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, and Capital Normal University in Beijing, CIUMN promotes the study of Chinese language and culture throughout Minnesota. Additional information is available at confucius.umn.edu.