On April 24, 2011, Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas sent two students to Houston to participate in the Chinese Bridge—Chinese Language Competition. David Teaster is a student of Chinese at UCA and Paige Morphew is a sophomore at Hot Springs High School. The contest was held at the Consulate General of China in Houston. Chinese Consulate at Houston has jurisdiction over 8 southern states from US and Porto Rico. The Chinese Bridge Contest is a worldwide Chinese language proficiency contest. It requires a good understanding of Chinese culture and language skills. There were 7 high school student contestants and 8 college student contestants. Paige Morphew won the second prize and David won honorable mention. Paige will have the opportunity to go to China to watch the worldwide competition which will held in China, in October.
Friday, April 8, 2011 UCA’s Confucius Institute welcomed guests to its first Chinese Bridge Language Competition for high school and college students. Fourteen students from 5 different high schools participated in the first Chinese Bridge Language. The three areas of competition included Mandarin Chinese proficiency, general knowledge about China, and in a culturally relevant performance. Each participant explained and discussed their experience with learning Chinese language and culture before competing. Most of them chose to perform a talent.Paige Morphew from Hot Springs won first place for her Chinese puppet show. Two second place prizes were awarded respectively to Kara Caines of Conway, who did an umbrella dance, and Denisha Scott of Hot Springs, who displayed her skills at playing Chinese chess. Katelyn Sheets of Beebe, who sang a song, Christy Reed of Cross County, who also sang a song, and Garry Webb of Conway, who read a poem, all won third place positions. Honorable mentions include: Alexis Benson, Brooke Bond, and Isabel Sanchez of Harrisburg, who all did a sing and dance routine; Sarah Vitagliano of Hot Springs, who played an instrument and sang a song; and Brittany Bracket of Beebe and Madalyn Smith of Wynne, who both read poems.Each of the participants was very excited and grateful for the opportunity to showcase what they have learned of China and Mandarin. Each participant explained and discussed their experience with learning Chinese language and culture before competing. First place winner Paige Morphew and UCA student David Teaster will travel to Houston to compete in the Regional Bridge Competition. From there, they will have the chance to travel to the next level of Competition in China.
On Tuesday, March 8, 2011, Dr. Huimin Qi presented a lecture entitled, “Behind the Painted Faces: Peking Opera” to a large group of students, faculty, and community members at UCA. Dr. Qi is a visiting professor of music from Qingdao University with a PhD in Ethnomusicology from the Chinese National Academy of Arts.
Peking Opera is a form of traditional Chinese theater utilizing song, dance, music, speech and choreographed fight scenes. In her lecture, Dr. Qi explained the long history and evolution of opera in China, from the early days when every locality had its own divergent style, to the standardization of music, characterization and language using a common northern dialect, to the gradual development of the modern style of Peking Opera.
Dr. Qi also discussed the ways in which Confucian ideas and traditional Chinese values are subtly and intrinsically made apparent in Chinese Opera. For example, it embodies the ideal of being able to appreciate the beauty in all things in that beauty in every sound and movement is the primary underlying component of Chinese Opera. Also, even during duets, the two performers sing in unison, symbolizing harmony and collective cooperation.
Dr. Qi’s lecture was very thorough and informative. Most of the attendees have never seen a Chinese Opera performance but were able to get a general idea of the importance, beauty and history surrounding this treasured Chinese tradition.
Thirteen Chinese teachers were awarded “Arkansas Traveler” by Arkansas State Board of Education on Monday, February 14, 2011. Beverly Williams, assistant commissioner of Arkansas Department of Education introduced all of the teachers to Arkansas Board of Education and explained that all of the teachers are from China and joined the “Teach Chinese in Arkansas Program” sponsored by UCA Confucius Institute and Arkansas Department of Education and Hanban. Eleven teachers were present accompanied by their school district leaders. Dr. Guo-ou Zhuang, director of UCA CI explained how UCA CI works and the coming event at UCA CI.
After the meeting, the teachers have a tour of the state capital and had lunch at ADE. School district leaders exchanged their thoughts during lunch. Joyce Craft, superintendent at Hot Springs School District said it is a very good program and the students there all love it. Sandra Smith, assistant principal at Wynne high school said it is such a beneficial program to the students; the schools could not afford not to have this program.
The teachers were introduced to the state senators and the house of representative while the legislatures were in session. The senators and representatives all stood up to applause the teachers for their contribution.
‘It is such a great opportunity for me and I think for all of us, we hope Arkansas people would know that we have Chinese teachers here in Arkansas to help them know more about our culture and language.’ said one of the teachers.
On Saturday, January 29th 2011 UCA Confucius Institute and UCA Chinese Students and Scholars Association held a celebration of the Chinese New Year, “the Year of the Rabbit.” The celebration included a reception for UCA Chinese faculty and Confucius Institute guests, Chinese cultural performance in Ida Waldron Auditorium, and a dinner held in the Student Center Ballroom.
President Meadors offered his warm New Year wishes at the reception to Chinese faculty at UCA and praised their contribution to the UCA community. He talked about the importance of growing appreciation of other cultures. Other speakers from UCA included Dr. Alexander Chen, Associate VP of International Engagement, and Dr. Guo-ou Zhuang, the director of UCACI, who spoke about the work and future plan of UCA’s Confucius Institute. Dr. Benjamin Perry, Superintendent of Wynne Schools, praised the collaboration with UCA Confucius Institute and spoke of his exciting experience of visiting China and about the Chinese Program in his district. So did Scott Embrey, Assistant Superintendent of Beebe schools. Beebe already has a distance learning system in place but plans on adding an on-site teacher to their Chinese program for the 2011-2012 school year. Other attendants include UCA administrators and faculty and staff, principals from school districts. Two students from Qingdao University played Gu-Zheng and Hulusi during the reception.
The art and cultural performance was sponsored by the International Office, Confucius Institute, and the CSSA. In attendance were many educators from across the state, a large group of high school students from Lincoln and Hot Springs, Chinese faculty and students, international students, and other interested UCA faculty and Conway community members, totaling approximately 500 people. Chinese students from CSSA staged eight separate music and vocal performances, ranging from Mozart’s String Quartets in C and G Major, to music from Asian composers performed on the violin, viola and piano. The final performance was a Taiwanese folk song sung by all of UCA’s new international students. Dr. Huimin Qi, Associate Dean of the College of Music from Qingdao University and a visiting fellow at the UCACI, helped the students organize the performance. The attendants said they really enjoyed every moment of the performance.
Everyone was in high spirits at the post-performance banquet held in the Student Center Ballroom. CSSA student ordered different kind of Chinese food from Chinese restaurant in Conway. Both students and faculty were abuzz with excitement from the performances. Several of those in attendance said this year’s celebration was even better than last year’s, citing separation of the music and dinner portions of the event and better overall organization.
The celebration provided a much needed source of entertainment and community for the international students, and gave UCA an excellent opportunity to share a rich cultural experience with the community.
The Confucius Institute and the Chinese Student and Scholars Association ( CSSA ) hosted UCA’s Chinese New Year celebration, also known as Spring Festival, on February 13, 2010. 400 UCA faculty, students, and Chinese families from Conway came to celebrate the biggest holiday in China at UCA. President Meadors started the celebration by wishing everyone “Xin Nian Kuai Le”, or ”Happy New Year” in Chinese.
On September 24, 2010 the UCA Confucius Institute, the Intensive English Program, and Chinese Students and Scholars Association jointly held a celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the "Moon Cake Festival." This is a traditional harvest festival celebration that coincides with the autumnal equinox, when the moon is at its fullest.
Around 300 participants attended the celebration. They were primarily comprised of international students, students enrolled in Chinese language classes, and students of Chinese descent. Chinese faculties of UCA, some faculties from IEP and department of World Languages and other departments, and Asian families from the Conway community also attended the event. CSSA planned activities that brought the students together in engaging and very entertaining ways. Games participated by students from different cultural background kept participants and observers laughing. Special singing and musical performances, which included the traditional xiao flute and guitar, were also great crowd pleasers. The evening was rounded out with karaoke performances. Traditional Chinese moon cakes were served to all.
In October 2010, 13 school districts attended Cirque Shanghai: Bai Xi, the Chinese acrobatic group. These school districts included UCA, Batesville, Conway, Harrisburg, Cross County, Gravette, Lincoln, North Little Rock, Waldron, Wynne, Conway Christian, Morrilton, St. Joseph. It was a cultural performance, attended by approximately 1220 students and faculty.
Dr. Ling He, Carmichael Chair and Professor of Finance at UCA, presented his lecture “Reform and Re-Reform” on October 7th in the College of Business Auditorium. In his lecture, Dr. He examined the unprecedented 30 year period of economic growth in China, the economic and political issues involved, and where China’s economy stands today. The event is one of the public lecture series sponsored by the UCA Confucius Institute.