TROY - More than 20 high school students from seven states will gain first-hand experience of Chinese language and culture during an upcoming 12-day trip to China made possible by the Confucius Institute at Troy University.
The students making the trip were previously part of the University's STARTALK Chinese program, a 15-day residential program for students learning the Chinese language and Chinese language teachers held on the Troy Campus. The STARTALK program, funded through a grant from the National Security Agency, is in its sixth year at TROY and attracts students and teachers from across Alabama and throughout the U.S.
STARTALK 's mission is to increase the number of Americans learning, speaking and teaching critical-need foreign languages by offering high school students and language teachers creative and engaging summer experiences that strive to exemplify the best practices in language education and in language teacher development.
Dr. Iris Xu, director of the Confucius Institute at TROY, said the STARTALK trip is made every two years, and students will leave this weekend for the 12-day experience.
"Students apply for the opportunity to make this trip, and this year we have 24 high school students from South Carolina, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, California and Alabama who will travel to China for 12 days," Dr. Xu said. "This provides them a wonderful opportunity to experience both the large, modern cities and the cultural sites of China."
The students will visit Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Wuxi and will spend four days of language and cultural education with students at Xuzhou High School.
The trip is the first of three planned by the Confucius Institute at TROY this year. Trips in May are scheduled for university students and artists from the state of Alabama, Dr. Xu said.
Established in 2007, the Confucius Institute at Troy University promotes understanding of Chinese language and culture and is the only such institute in Alabama with a statewide mission. The Institute also serves an economic development role and has sponsored 18 trips to China for state business leaders, government officials, teachers and students since 2008. The Institute also partners with schools in Montgomery, Pike Road and the Birmingham area through the Confucius Classrooms program.
In December 2012, TROY's Confucius Institute was one of 26 in the world and just one of six in the nation to be recognized with a Confucius Institute of the Year Award.