TROY -- The Confucius Institute at Troy University officially recognized partnerships with two Alabama schools on Friday that will further aid efforts to teach the Chinese language and culture.
During a ceremony in the new headquarters of the University’s Confucius Institute in Bibb Graves Hall on the Troy Campus, University officials announced the formation of Confucius Classrooms at the Highlands School in Birmingham and the Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP) in Montgomery. Through the program, the schools will gain access to grant funding to enrich and improve their existing Mandarin Chinese programs.
The new Confucius Classrooms are the first such partnerships formed through TROY’s Confucius Institute and the first in the State of Alabama. There are more than 300 Confucius Classrooms worldwide as part of the global Confucius Institute network.
The Confucius Classroom extension program is designed to support Chinese language and cultural education in local communities. Partner institutions that sign on as Confucius Classrooms can apply for grants from the Confucius Institute’s headquarters in China to subsidize local educational programs.
“People in both China and the United States must understand each other because from understanding comes appreciation,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., TROY Chancellor. “The best step toward developing that understanding is to teach the Chinese language to the children of this state and the earliest age possible. Our vision is to see the establishment of Confucius Classrooms in schools throughout Alabama. By working together, we can make that vision become reality.”
Kathryn Barr, head of the Highlands School which serves pre-school through eighth grade, said the school first began teaching Mandarin Chinese five years ago.
“We believe that students need to learn how to communicate with and learn about other cultures,” Barr said. “We are excited to be a Confucius Classroom and plan to use it well, spreading the word about the importance of learning the Chinese language and culture.”
Steven Frost, a teacher in the Confucius Classroom at LAMP, said he hoped that the program would serve as a model for Chinese language education.
“LAMP is very happy to accept the honor of hosting a Chinese Classroom,” Mr. Frost said. “The cooperation between the Confucius Institute at Troy University and LAMP provides the opportunity to reach out to some of Alabama’s best and brightest students and future leaders. I hope that this program will be seen as a model and that it serves to broaden awareness of the need for and importance of global education for the students of Alabama.”
Jun Yang, vice headmaster of Qinhuangdao New Century High School in the Hebei Province, stressed the importance of the mission of the Confucius Classroom program.
“To better understand a country, you must begin with its language,” Yang said. “These students who will benefit from these programs will go far beyond learning the Chinese language. They will emerge as ambassadors who, through their example and actions, will promote Sino-American communication and partnership.”
The ceremony concluded with students from the Highlands School performing two songs – one in English and one in Chinese.
Friday’s ceremony was a part of China-Alabama Week activities on the Troy Campus, which also included the dedication of the permanent offices of TROY’s Confucius Institute and the Alabama-China Education Symposium, which began Thursday and wrapped up on Friday afternoon.