October 12, 2013, Confucius Institute at UCA (UCACI) hosted a lecture on Chinese Tea Culture at Faulkner County Library, Conway. This activity was the first in the series activities of Exploring Chinese Culture in collaboration with the Faulkner County Library.
At the beginning of the activity, a video of tea and Chinese people’s daily life was shown to the participants informing them of the important role that tea plays in Chinese people’s life. Then, Dr. Lucy Xiaohong Lu, Deputy Director of UCACI, gave a lecture on Chinese Tea Culture. Starting with tea and Confucian Thoughts, the lecture covered topics like tea and health, types of tea, the ways to select tea, tea wares, etc. While talking about how to brew tea and serve tea, Dr. Lu demonstrated Chinese tea ceremony to the audience. Participants were interested in different types of tea and the ways of brewing them, and they also learned how to appreciate green tea, white tea, and black tea. On the topics of tea and etiquette, Dr. Lu showed the participants some simple Chinese etiquette and expressions, like knocking the table twice to mean thanks, “nihao” (how are you?), “qingzuo” (Take the seat, please), “qing hecha” (Have some tea, please), “xiexie” (Thanks), etc. Participants learned these Chinese expressions and started to use them during the appreciation of tea.
With the help of UCACI staff, participants began to brew tea by themselves. They were especially interested in various tea wares, so they picked each of them up to observe and learned to brew tea. While brewing tea, participants also asked UCACI staff a lot of questions about tea and tea culture.
At the end of the activity, participants all gave high praise of Chinese tea and tea culture, and expressed thanks to UCACI for hosting such activities. Mrs. Nancy, staff at Faulkner County Library said, this activity displayed the profound Chinese tea culture in easy-to-understand approach and enriched the cultural life of the local community
September 18 to 22, 2013, Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas (UCACI) hosted a series of activities to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival with Chinese students, UCA faculty and staff, and local community, to share the happiness of the festival, and to introduce Chinese festival culture.
On September 18, UCACI sent Mid-Autumn Festival cards to the administrative departments and colleges at UCA, in order to share the best wishes with the faculty and staff at UCA, and also express thanks for their continuous support to UCACI’s programs and activities.
On the afternoon of September 21, Dr. Guo-ou Zhuang, Director of UCACI, Dr. Lucy Xiaohong Lu, Deputy Director of UCACI, and three other Chinese teachers at UCACI, invited 25 UCA faculty and American friends to the Mid-Autumn celebration party to taste the moon cakes, make dumplings, and play games. Participants showed great interest in the tradition of Mid-Autumn Festival and in making dumplings. They engaged actively and tried to make some themselves. During the party, Director Zhuang gave a short speech, giving festival greetings to the guests and expressing thanks to their help and support. After the dinner, Chinese games such as Jigu Chuanhua, matching pictures with characters, and picking up beans with chopsticks were played. Participants were given craft chopsticks, calligraphy brushes, and Chinese knots as souvenirs. Both Chinese teachers and foreign friends enjoyed the event greatly. As one of the UCA faculty said, “Thank you for all your hard work to make these cultural experiences possible. We feel thankful to have you here with us to share your rich culture. We value our friendship with all our Chinese colleagues and students”.
On the evening of September 22, at the Ida Waldran Auditorium of the Old Main, UCA, the UCA Chinese Scholars and Students Association (CSSA) and UCACI co-hosted a Mid-Autumn Celebration Gala. More than 500 people attended the gala. This is the first time that CSSA and UCACI worked with five other universities within Arkansas (University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas Little Rock, Arkansas State University, etc) to hold the event. Before the show, UCA President Tom Courtway came to the auditorium and met with the UCACI staff and CSSA performers. He thanked UCACI and CSSA to hold such a great event to enhance the diversity of UCA community, and he also wished the performance a great success. Chinese students from six universities presented a wonderful performance for local Chinese people and UCA community. After the show, audience and performers walked into the lobby to taste moon cakes and share feedbacks on the performance. About 30 American high school students from Hot Springs School Districts together with their Chinese teachers were invited to the Celebration Gala.
The series activities to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival held by UCACI were presented in different forms, which attracted a large number of people. These activities not only provided chances for Chinese students, and Chinese community to get together and celebrate the festival, but also actively involved the local communities in appreciating Chinese culture, and thus strengthened the friendship between Chinese living in Arkansas and the local community.
September 11 to 12, 2013, Deputy Consul-General Zhang Chuanbing from Chinese Consulate General in Houston visited University of Central Arkansas with Consul Xu Baiyu, Duan Fenghua, and Deng Saiying. The UCA Confucius Institute (UCACI) assisted in the reception of the visiting group.
On the evening of September 11, Deputy Consul-General Zhang and the Consul Deng gave a lecture on China-U.S. relationship, preventive consular protection, and safety issues to Chinese students from several universities in Arkansas at the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center, UCA. In the lecture, various consular protection cases were discussed as examples in order to raise the safety awareness and preparedness of students. After the lecture, members of the visiting group interacted with the students and answered their questions.
On the afternoon of September 12, the visiting group met with the UCA Provost Dr. Steve Runge and Associate Provost Dr. Wendy Lucas, accompanied by Dr. Guo-ou Zhuang, Director of UCACI, and Dr. Lucy Xiaohong Lu, Deputy Director of UCACI. They exchanged ideas and strategies on campus safety and the safety of Chinese students. After the meeting, the visiting group had a campus tour with the company of UCACI staff.
After that, group members came to UCACI and visited the Chinese resource center and looked at the bulletin boards of UCACI. Deputy Consul-General Zhang was greatly impressed by the programs and activities offered by UCACI. The group members also met with the Chinese teachers and students representatives at the UCACI meeting room. They had a friendly and cordial talk about the work and college life abroad.
The teachers and students all expressed that the lecture on safety issues was very useful in enhancing their safety awareness. And during the conversation with the consuls, they truly felt the concern from Chinese government. They stated that they will abide by the laws and stay safe while studying in the U.S.
On August 26th, 2013, the Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas (UCACI) hosted a Chinese Culture Fair in the center area of UCA campus. The event lasted from 10am to 4pm, with over 500 students, faculty, and people from the community participating in the fair and about 150 students signing up for Chinese cultural activities.
The Chinese Culture Fair consisted of three main sections: the exhibition section, the cultural experience section, and the information section. In the exhibition area, photos of previous Chinese cultural activities and programs were shown on four exhibition boards, such as Chinese Bridge Competition, Arkansas High School Students Summer Camp in China, Arkansas Educators’ China Tour, Chinese Culture Club, Chinese Immersion Program in Shanghai, etc. The exhibition boards gave participants a vivid presentation of the various activities organized by the Confucius Institute at UCA. Besides the photo exhibition, various other Chinese cultural exhibits, such as tea set, bamboo slip, Beijing opera mask, Chinese musical instrument, go, Chinese chess, Chinese games, palace lantern, Chinese knots, etc, attracted many people to drop by. Students showed strong interests in the exhibits introduced and explained by UCACI staff and they tried some hands-on activities.
At the information section, participants got flyers of the Chinese activities, Chinese language programs, Confucius Institute Scholarships, HSK and other detailed information from UCACI staff. At the same time, they could sign up for the cultural activities of Chinese club this fall semester. Many participants showed their enthusiasm in the activities, and some of them said they would consider taking Chinese courses in the semester to come.
At the cultural experience section, many students were excited to get a Chinese name and to have it written in Chinese calligraphy by Dr. Guo-ou Zhuang, Director of UCACI. They found that the Chinese calligraphy was “very cool” and they would like to frame their Chinese names and put them on the door of their dorms. This activity was very popular and people waited in a long line to get their Chinese names written in calligraphy. Chinese snacks, like spring rolls and fried dumplings, were also a great attraction.
The Chinese Cultural Fair helps UCA community get more information about the Chinese language programs offered by UCA and UCACI, inviting the university community to get involved in Chinese programs and cultural activities. It will be a regular activity of UCACI each semester.
Arkansas High School Students Participate in the Chinese Bridge – Summer Camp for American High School Students
July 10 to July 25 2013, nine students from four Arkansas high schools and one chaperone went to China to participate in the Chinese Bridge – Summer Camp for American High School Students in Beijing and Tianjin, held by the Confucius Institute Headquarters.
The first week of the summer camp was in Tianjin. Students spent the mornings studying Chinese at the Tianjin Normal University and doing cultural projects like Chinese painting and paper cutting. In the afternoon and evening, students did some cultural excursions to places of interests in Tianjin, such as the 5 Avenues District, the Ancient Culture Street, Tianjin Museum, Yangliuqing, and they also had the opportunity to watch a Chinese Opera show. During their extracurricular time, students learned a cultural dance for their performance in Beijing at the end of the summer camp.
In the second week, students went to Beijing to visit famous culture relics. They visited the Forbidden City and climbed the Great Wall. The great history, splendid architecture, and profound culture of China impressed students and teachers a lot. Kim Rowan, the chaperon teacher from Bentonville High School, said that she will never forget this trip, and this kind of activity can encourage more students in Arkansas to learn Chinese, take part in the activities offered by the Confucius Institute, and even work and study in China in the future.
Students also wrote in their feedback that, they have made great progress in Chinese by learning in an immersive environment, and they had first-hand experience about the profoundness of China’s past, the beauty of an old and modern twist. Besides, they are impressed with the breakneck speed of modernization in China and the friendliness of Chinese people. They all expressed their desire to share their trip with family, friends, and classmates, and decided to work harder on Chinese, hoping one day they can visit China again.
The Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas (UCACI) made great efforts in promoting this summer camp program by organizing the registration and preparation work in Arkansas. On 25 May, the Confucius Institute at UCA gave the campers a Pre-Departure Orientation.
On August 5th, 2013, the Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas (UCACI) held a Welcome- luncheon for new Hanban Chinese teachers at President Dining Room at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA).
Mr. Tom Courtway, President of UCA, Dr. Maurice Lee, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Ms. Barbara Culpepper, Dr. Frank Servedio, and Ms. Ann Crosser from Arkansas Department Education (ADE), Dr. Phillip Bailey, Chair of World Languages and Culture, Ms. Ashley Pettingill and Ms. Lisa Shoemake from International Engagement , superintendents, principals and mentors from school districts were invited at the luncheon.
At the luncheon, President Tom Courtway gave an opening speech. He said that UCACI did a great job in enriching the foreign languages programs at UCA and in Arkansas. He welcomed the new Chinese teachers to Arkansas. Dr. Zhuang, Director of UCACI expressed his thanks to UCA, ADE and school districts for supporting the Chinese Program; meanwhile, he gave a brief introduction of the development of UCACI and Teach Chinese in Arkansas Program to all attendees. He expressed his hope to open more Chinese programs in the rest of the school districts in Arkansas. Ms. Barbara Culpepper from ADE stated that she was very glad to see that Teach Chinese in Arkansas Program has developed very well with the dedication of ADE and UCACI. She appreciated what UCACI has done for enhancing the Chinese Language proficiency of the people in Arkansas in the past few years, and said it was very meaningful for Arkansas’s Education. Ms. Kimberly Rowan, chaperone for this summer’s Summer Camp for American High School Students in China introduced her wonderful experience in the Summer Camp this July and Ms. Laura Rymel shared with others her unforgettable experience as a member of the Arkansas Educator Group China Tour. Both of the programs were sponsored by Confucius Institute Headquarters and organized by UCACI.
After the Welcome luncheon, the six new Hanban Chinese teachers were taken to their school districts for further orientation of their new teaching career in Arkansas. They will begin their Chinese classes in the mid-August.
On July 4th 2013, 9 new Hanban Chinese teachers arrived at the Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas (UCACI). UCACI hosts a welcome luncheon for the new Chinese teachers on their first day in Arkansas. The new Chinese teachers will have a one-week orientation organized by UCACI. After that, they will take part in the first round of Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL) program which is held by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) from July 15th to August 2nd at UCA. In addition to the APPEL training, they will need to pass the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI), Writing Proficiency Test, PraxisⅠand PraxisⅡto get their teacher licensures.
In the first one-week orientation, Dr. Shoudong Feng and Dr. Dong Xie, from College of Education at UCA are invited to give lectures on cross-culture adjustment, Arkansas public education and how to teach in Arkansas for the teachers. UCACI also invites Ms. Jamie Bird, an experienced foreign language teacher and former Foreign Languages Department Chair from Conway High School to give a workshop for the new Chinese teachers. UCACI also helps new teachers to adjust themselves to the local life sooner.
Together with other local American teachers, the Chinese teachers take part in the APPEL program which is designed for those who want to get teacher licensure to teach in Arkansas. Through the training program, they will get more knowledge about American education, classroom management and classroom teaching. They also learn how to integrate technology into foreign language learning and teaching.
The first-round of APPEL program will finish on August 2nd. UCACI will hold a farewell luncheon for the new Chinese teachers on August 5th. Superintendents, principals and mentors from the related school districts will come to meet the new teachers at the luncheon and UCA administrators will be present as well.
The Chinese teachers will begin their teaching in the mid-August.
Four UCA faculty members were invited to attend the International Philosophy Conference with the theme of “Chinese Culture Cognitive Dimension” held by the Department of Philosophy at East China Normal University (ECNU) on June 22 and June 23. During the two-day conference, the UCA delegation, which included Dr. Jim Shelton, Dr. Clayton Crockett and Dr. Nicolas Brasovan from Department of Philosophy and Religion and Dr. Guo-ou Zhuang, Director of Confucius Institute, gave paper presentations on the theme from different perspectives. Their unique insights and comparative perspectives on Chinese and Western philosophy aroused a heated discussion among the colleagues from both China and America.
Apart from the presentations at the international conference, Dr. Jim Shelton and Dr. Clayton Crockett were invited to give lectures to ECNU faculty and students during their visit in Shanghai.
With UCACI as a bridge, the academic exchanges between UCA and ECNU are greatly strengthened. As Dr. Zhenhua Yu, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at ECNU puts it: The international conference provides a very good opportunity for ECNU scholars to meet with UCA scholars and to exchange ideas on the common issues. It is just a beginning, and we hope there will be more exchanges in the field of liberal arts.
On June 9, 2013, Dr. Maurice Lee, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts visited East China Normal University (ECNU). As the Chair of the World Short Story Conference, his main purpose is to seek the collaboration with ECNU to host the 14th International Conference on the Short Story in Shanghai in 2016. During his visit in Shanghai, Dean Lee met with Dr. Youqun Ren, Vice President of ECNU and Deans of the School of Liberal Arts, the School of Foreign Languages, the School of Fine Arts, Directors of International Exchange Affairs. At the meeting, Vice President Dr. Youqun Ren expressed ECNU’s strong support in collaboration with UCA to host the 14th International Conference on the Short Story in Shanghai. He also introduced to Dean Lee the prominent work of the scholars and writers at ECNU on literary criticism and creative writing
Accompanied by Dr. Guo-ou Zhuang and Ms. Lucy Xiaohong Lu, directors of UCACI, Dean Lee also visited and examined the conference venues and hotels for the 14th International Conference on the Short Story. On his visit, he was also invited by the School of Foreign Languages to give a lecture to students and faculty at ECNU on African-American literature.
On June 7, 2013, a group of Arkansas educators led by Ms. Lucy Xiaohong Lu, Deputy Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Central Arkansas (UCACI) arrived in Shanghai to begin their 10 day Chinese Bridge —China Tour program. This program is sponsored by Confucius Institute Headquarters, and co-organized by UCACI and East China Normal University (ECNU),UCA’s partner University in Shanghai.
During their 10-day program, the Arkansas Educator Group participates in a variety of cultural activities, including visiting two schools in Nanjing, observing classes, talking with the Director of Education Bureau and principals in Nanjing to get better knowledge of Chinese education and to explore the possibilities of exchange program between American high schools and Chinese high schools. They watch live acrobats, take Pujiang River Cruise, visit Shanghai Museum, Silk Museum, Chinese traditional gardens, etc. They also have some hands on activities like practicing Chinese calligraphy and making dumplings.
This China Tour program has enriched their overseas experience, expanded their global horizon, and deepened their understanding of Chinese culture and its people. As Dr. Karen Morton, Director of Data Analysis from Bentonville School District puts it: “This program provides an extraordinary opportunity to see China. I cannot imagine a more educational and meaningful time (than this).” Mr. Donald Ward, former Mayor of Beebe, and Chair of Social Studies at Beebe High School expresses the similar idea in his feedback. He says that this China Tour program has helped him to understand both past and present China better, and he now has more vivid details to share with his students about Chinese culture and its people. He is greatly amazed by what he actually sees and hears in China.