GRU's new Confucius Institute offers an immersion into Chinese culture

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As a native Augustan and fourth-generation Chinese-American, I am excited about the opening of the Georgia Regents University Confucius Institute on March 28.

What is a CI? As China’s economy began to see rapid growth about 10 years ago, it recognized that there was a tremendous increase in the world’s demand for Chinese learning. Seeing the success of other nations benefiting from promoting their national language (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain), China established nonprofit public institutions in partnership with leading universities to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries. These were named Confucius Institutes.

IN JULY 2013, GRU’s application for a CI was granted, making it the newest of about 400 worldwide CIs. GRU’s CI is the first to be affiliated with a comprehensive academic health center, and the first in the Western Hemisphere with a focus on traditional Chinese medicine.

Each CI has its own goals and mission. The mission of the GRU CI will be to establish a comprehensive academic center for the study of Chinese language and culture; to enhance multicultural awareness through Chinese
language and culture program
for children and adults in the Augusta community; and to create an international program of distinction in traditional Chinese medicine.

The CI is part of GRU’s strategy of becoming an internationally recognized leader in education, research and scholarship. The CI will allow GRU to offer academic programs in Chinese language, arts and cultural studies. The CI will establish GRU as a national leader in traditional Chinese medicine programs. Traditional Chinese medicine originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. Its practitioners use herbal medicines and various mind and body practices, such as acupuncture and t’ai chi, to treat or prevent health problems.

Our educational, business and cultural community will benefit from the CI programs and resources. GRU College of Education students will partner with K-12 schools in the Augusta area to teach Chinese arts, culture and language with a program curriculum that encourages multicultural awareness. The business community can learn more about Chinese culture and customs as they move to forge relationships with Chinese companies. And the cultural community will benefit from the programs and resources that the CI have and can bring to the community.

OUR LOCAL CHINESE community also will benefit. There are several Chinese organizations in our community: the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA); the CSRA Chinese Association; the GRU Chinese Scholars and Students Association; a Chinese school and a Chinese church. GRU President Ricardo Azziz was aware early on in his tenure here of the long history of the Chinese in Augusta, a presence that dates to the 1870s when Chinese immigrants were contracted to help enlarge the Augusta Canal.

This history and the cultural benefits to the local Chinese community – many of whom are students, faculty and staff at GRU – also played a factor in his desire to bring a CI to GRU. The CI’s language and cultural activities and programs will provide a tremendous resource to the Chinese community to help our children learn about our long, rich heritage.

I WAS FORTUNATE to be asked to serve on the CI application committee and saw firsthand the vision, mission and commitment that the GRU leadership has put into the Confucius Institute. On behalf of the CCBA, we would like to extend our congratulations and appreciation to Dr. Azziz and his leadership team. We are excited about the opportunities and benefits the Confucius Institute will bring to the entire community.

As we all become a part of
the great American melting pot with the arrival of each new
generation, we all lose a little of our cultural identity and traditions, and it is important to have resources to help each new generation learn about their rich heritage. On behalf of the Chinese community – and from me personally, having a young daughter – thank you, Georgia Regents University.

(The writer is president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Augusta.)

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iaaffg 03/30/14 - 06:00 am
CI institute: should call it

CI institute: should call it Communist Institute. isn't china a communist country? aren't their values and outlook and 'culture' on life a whole lot different than ours? why do we want to learn more about communism, unless this is just another wolf in sheep's clothing to disguise a more sinister purpose? and why has china's economy grown so much in the last ten years? why, b/c they make a majority of the crap you find here on our shelves in america, thanks to big unions here pushing work out of our country. plus, the chinese do not have to pay any big taxes to ship their crap over here, that's why they have economic growth and why we are gasping at the hind boob. now we have the CI institute here in augusta, and now the chinese have part ownership of the internet and our economy. what's next? don't tell me you want me to learn about your culture, like this is some social study class back in third grade. does anyone out there realize that the chinese 'culture' pretty much rules what their citizens can and cannot do, in their daily lives, etc. and they monitor the internet over there, y'all, so if they own the internet now, good luck on browsing the net anymore for things YOU want, for the great, all-knowing, mysterious, chock-fulla-culture-chinese will TELL you what you will want. more pee on our legs, they are still calling it rain.

Riverman1 03/30/14 - 09:36 am
Wasteof Resources

I appreciate the Chinese community in Augusta and America, but trying to teach English speakers Chinese is a monumental waste of time and resources for GRU. Few have the aptitude to master the language. In addition most countries teach English as a second language. There are ten million Chinese who speak English. It's the international language. If you want to learn Chinese, buy Rosetta Stone and have at it.

Truth Matters
Truth Matters 03/30/14 - 09:53 am
There is a CI at Kennesaw

There is a CI at Kennesaw State University. A few years ago the Georgia's PreK students began learning Mandarin Chinese. That site was selected because there was an opportunity for the students to continue to learn/use the language beyond Pre-K.

Butterman 03/30/14 - 01:06 pm
sounds nice

just don't drink the Coke.

brett-miller 03/30/14 - 02:51 pm
Great opportunity....

Great opportunity to lean about other cultures right in our own backyard.

deestafford 03/30/14 - 04:18 pm
I think it's great to learn the Chinese culture; however, I....

I think it's great to learn the Chinese culture; however, I would love for students k-12 to learn American culture and history FIRST which they are not now learning then learn about the great Chinese culture.

Students are too ignorant of our history, traditions, and why we reached the pinnacle of the list of the world's number one in just about nearly every category from which we are now retreating under statist leadership. Please let's do that first.

foxsilong 03/31/14 - 02:24 pm

Just because English is the international language, doesn't mean you can't learn another language. To say that learning a language is a waste of time and resources is garbage.

And btw, English is the international language, but not the most spoken language, Chinese is.

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