Profs, spouses learn Chinese at no cost
Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2011 12:09
Faculty members and their spouses may now enroll in free Chinese language and culture courses thanks to the university's branch of the Confucius Institute.
Classes range from introductory Chinese language to Taiji, a traditional martial art form. Institute officials seek to facilitate communication between faculty members and Chinese students, according to Ming Wu, a visiting scholar from China's Xiamen University, who works at the institute.
Prior to the program, many university employees, especially nurses from the student health center, expressed interest in learning Chinese, she said.
"[Students] come here from China and they get sick," Wu said. "But nurses are unable to communicate, and students don't know how to express themselves."
Classes begin this month, with both calligraphy and Chinese level 2 sections still open, whereas level 1 is full, and Taiji, the only course that requires a registration fee, has a waiting list, she said.
Tajii, sometimes referred to as Tai Chi, is a martial art form that uses soft and hard martial arts techniques and focuses on longevity and self-improvement.
"Taiji is very popular," Wu said. "I think because people want to be more healthy."
With headquarters in Beijing, the institute's main goal is to spread the Chinese language and culture to all parts of the world. Part of its funding comes from the institute's headquarters, while the
Chinese government supplies a monthly allowance to volunteer teachers, she said.
The Delaware division, which partners with Xiamen University in Beijing, is one of the more than 300 institutes worldwide. Xiamen provides one co-director and one or two professional teachers from Xiamen to organize teaching here, Wu said.
"Bringing teachers from China is hard, so we try to find resources here," she said.
Calligraphy instructor Brian Li, 24, a graduate accounting student, said he heard the institute needed cultural teachers last semester. Li, who has studied calligraphy for five years and taught a class about it for the first time, said the experience was rewarding.
"I have never considered there are so many Americans that are interested in Chinese culture," he said. "It's a big surprise."
Communications professor Beth Haslett said she attended Li's first calligraphy class hoping to learn about the art and Chinese culture.
"It is both a personal and professional interest," Haslett said. "I expect to share what I learn with students in my cross cultural communication courses."
Wu said she hopes faculty members and their spouses will have fun and apply their new knowledge of Chinese language and culture to interactions with Chinese students in the classroom.
"It is a responsibility for us to teach culture to all that are interested in it," Li said.