Aug. 21, 2007 by Bob Nosbisch NMSU News Center
Distinguished guests from China will participate in the official opening of the New Mexico State University Confucius Institute later this month.
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, in the Monagle Hall East Courtyard. Monagle Hall is across the International Mall from Corbett Center. The public is invited.
Speaking at the ceremony will be Liu Guiyun, the president of the Shijiazhuang Language and Culture College (SLCC) in Hebei Province, south of Beijing; Jin Baoshuan, director of higher education in Hebei Province; NMSU President Michael Martin; and Ken Hammond, director of the NMSU Confucius Institute and an East Asia scholar.
“The opening of the Confucius Institute marks a major step forward for NMSU and the state of New Mexico in developing opportunities for greater communication and understanding between this community and China,” Hammond said. “Through Chinese language education and other forms of cultural outreach, we hope to provide members of the campus and the general public with more information and with the chance to learn about such things as doing business in China and how China’s emergence as an important economic and political power creates both challenges and opportunities for Americans and New Mexicans.”
A brass plaque with the name of the institute in English and Chinese will be unveiled.
After the ceremony, the Chinese delegation and NMSU faculty and administrators working on China will meet during lunch in Corbett Center.
A small exhibition on Chinese culture will be on display in Monagle Hall.
On Friday, various groups on campus will have follow-up meetings. Also, university faculty and administrators who have been working on China are planning a meeting with Las Cruces Public Schools administrators to discuss teaching the Chinese language in the public schools.
A grant from the China Ministry of Education of $100,000 per year will help launch the institute at NMSU, but the goal is to have a self-sustaining institute after five years. Additional monies will have to be raised through other grants, fundraising activities, or fees for such services as language classes, business workshops and artistic performances.
The combination of Mandarin Chinese as the world’s fastest-growing language and China’s surging economy caught the attention of Hammond and others at NMSU, leading to an exchange program between NMSU and the SLCC that began in 2002. Two years later, SLCC President Liu told Hammond a new initiative in China would establish Confucius Institutes in universities around the world.
Modeled after France’s Alliance Française and Germany’s Goethe Institut, the Confucius Institute’s goal is to promote cultural and language understanding, Hammond said. In addition to those in France and Germany, more than 150 Confucius institutes are now spread throughout the world.