Confucius Institute Celebration

Mark W. Huddleston

Confucius Institute Celebration
Opening Remarks
October 26, 2010

Let’s give a round of applause to our very own UNH Chamber Singers and their director, professors Bill Kempster and Jenni Cook, for their beautiful rendition of Jasmine Flower, a Chinese folk song and Love Song From Kangding, a Sichuan Folk Song.

Good morning, everyone, and hello to all of our colleagues at UNH Manchester, joining us via simulcast. I’m Mark Huddleston, president of the University of New Hampshire, and we’re here today to celebrate the opening of the Confucius Institute at UNH.

All over the world, interest in China—its language, culture, history, and economy—is growing dramatically. The world of American higher education is no exception. In 1996, for example, about 1,400 American students studied in China. In 2008, that number grew to more than 13,000. Today, China is the fifth most popular destination for Americans to study abroad, and there is a burgeoning demand for Chinese programs here in the United States.

But the Confucius Institute at UNH isn’t a program—it’s the program, a partnership between two great universities, the University of New Hampshire and Chengdu University in Sichuan province, China. Confucius once said, “If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”

That’s what this partnership is about, the opportunity for UNH to serve the people of New Hampshire and beyond as the center for Chinese studies in Northern New England. The Confucius Institute, based in the University’s College of Liberal Arts, will offer a full curriculum in Chinese language and culture. It will provide opportunities for cultural learning and international exchange for regional primary and secondary schools.

In the months and years to come, UNH will explore a variety of cooperative projects with school districts, businesses, and communities around the state. We already have had six school districts ask the Confucius Institute to help arrange for Chinese language instructors. And, at a time when China is the third largest trading partner for New Hampshire, the institute can provide unique opportunities for business and industry in the state.

It was almost two years ago to the day that my office received an e-mail from Chengdu University inviting UNH to explore the possibility of faculty exchange and a joint application for the establishment of a Confucius Institute. Since that day, our two universities have exchanged faculty…and we’ve even exchanged presidents, as you may have noted in the slides that greeted you here today! And now, as we move into the formal phase of our partnership, I want to take a moment to thank some of the many groups of people who worked so hard to make this day possible.

First, our colleagues in China:

  • The Hanban Office in Beijing
  • The People’s Republic of China Consulate-General in New York
  • The President’s Office, Chengdu University
  • And the Office of International Affairs, Chengdu University

I also want to thank those in NH and UNH who made this partnership possible:

  • NH Congressional Delegation
  • NH Department of Education
  • UNH Provost’s Office
  • College of Liberal Arts at UNH
  • And the UNH China Committee, a group of faculty and staff from across UNH, all dedicated to making the dream of a Confucius Institute a reality

Finally, I would like to give a special acknowledgment to our co-directors: XU Yuexing from Chengdu University and WANG Yige from UNH.

Our mission at UNH—indeed, our reason for being—is to offer our students the highest quality education—a “world class” education. Today it is fitting to emphasize the word “world”—something growing seemingly smaller day by day, even as our horizons are expanded through international partnerships such as this one with Chengdu University. The Confucius Institute affords our students an enriched international and educational experience. Here to provide a student perspective on the institute’s impact is Abby Pavlik. Abby is a linguistics major, and was one of our top Chinese language students who taught UNH’s Chinese language summer program for young people in grades 4 through 12 this year.

Thanks Abby. And now, Attache Cen of the People’s Republic of China will offer his remarks.Thanks, Attache Cen. And now I’d like to invite my counterpart, President Zhou (“Joe”) of Chengdu University, to the podium.

Now, I would like to present my esteemed guests from Chengdu University with a gift…one that symbolizes the spirit of UNH and New Hampshire. President Zhou, on behalf of Wildcat Country and the University of New Hampshire, I am proud to present you with a replica of the Wildcat Sculpture. The wildcat watches over our campus and represents the qualities of boldness and intelligence that we value.

Now we are pleased to present entertainment provided by our new partners from China. Let me conclude by inviting all of you to the opening reception for the “Art of China” exhibition at the UNH Museum of Art this evening at 5:00. And please join us tomorrow evening at The Music Hall in Portsmouth for another lively performance by our guest artists at 7 p.m.

Enjoy the show!