ASMSA dedicates Confucius Classroom

5 months ago

The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts and the Confucius Institute for Arkansas at the University of Central Arkansas celebrated Chinese New Year with a special event — the dedication of a Confucius Classroom at ASMSA.

The classroom will be dedicated to Chinese language and culture instruction. ASMSA developed the classroom as part of a five-year, $50,000 grant from the Confucius Institute to create the classroom for on-campus and distance education classes. The classroom also will serve as a venue for the community to interact with ASMSA’s Chinese instructor during special events such as China-related topics and Chinese culture and language classes.

Friday’s ceremony at ASMSA was held what would be the early morning hours in China on Saturday, the first day of the nation’s 2017 New Year’s celebration. ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice noted that it was an appropriate time to rededicate the school to Chinese language instruction.

“The New Year is a period of renewal, but it’s also a time for reflection and rededication,” Alderdice said. “Over the past seven years, ASMSA has had the opportunity to promote understanding of the Chinese language and culture through our residential experience, distance education program, and outreach initiatives.

“Beyond the classroom, we have worked to provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff to connect with the people of China through Confucius Institute travel abroad programs, the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, and other experiences.”

Both Alderdice and Dr. Guo-ou Zhuang, director of the UCA Confucius Institute, said it is important for Arkansas students and residents have the opportunity to develop Chinese language skills and learn about Chinese culture as the state of Arkansas continues to develop economic ties with the nation.

“What will ensure the success of those partnerships is Arkansans like those who will study language and culture in this space,” Alderdice said.

“ASMSA students are not only citizens of our state but also members of a great and wide global community. Students who study Chinese as a critical, 21st century language have the opportunity to make an economic, civic and cultural impact on our state and nation. They build bridges not walls. They use language to promote friendship not fear. They see the value in being part of something more rather than standing apart from it.”

Zhuang said both current Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and previous Gov. Mike Beebe showed interest in developing economic relations with China, including encouraging Chinese companies to establish factories in the state. In order for those relationships to develop and be successful, the state needs a workforce educated in Chinese language and culture. Programs such as ASMSA’s language courses and future Confucius Classroom activities are important for the successful education of the workforce, Zhuang said.

“Your knowledge of English and your knowledge of Chinese gives you a competitive edge for your future,” Zhuang said the ASMSA and Hot Springs Lakeside students who were in attendance at Friday’s event. Lakeside and ASMSA students receive instruction from the same Chinese teacher provided through the institute.

The grant for the classroom and future Chinese instruction was announced last year. Hot Springs High School also received a grant to establish a Confucius Classroom on its campus.

ASMSA will also use the classroom to provide professional development for Arkansas history, social studies, foreign language and other interested teachers seeking to enrich their own classes through Chinese language and culture instruction.

The UCA Confucius Institute was established in 2007 with East China Normal University in Shanghai, one of China’s most prestigious universities, as its partner university. ASMSA began working with the institute in 2010, first as part of the school’s outreach and digital learning initiatives before adding residential student courses in 2013.

For more information on the Confucius Institute for Arkansas, visit uca.edu/confucius.

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