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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 15, 2006

Confucius Institute Celebrates Inauguration At UI Sept. 22

The University of Iowa will host an inaugural celebration for the new Confucius Institute at 3 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22. The ceremony will take place in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber, 1 Clinton St., on the UI campus. The public is invited.

The UI Confucius Institute is one of 12 in the United States. The UI's institute will focus on Chinese language teacher training and research on the learning and teaching of Chinese as a foreign language, two areas the UI is known for on an international level.

Leaders from the UI communities and the Chinese government will come together for the ceremony and reception. The events will celebrate the signing of the March 15, 2006 agreement between the UI and The Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) to establish an institute on the UI campus. The Confucius Institute is a project of the Chinese government to strengthen cultural exchange between China and a number of important countries.

The Confucius Institute, which is part of UI International Programs, draws upon the considerable expertise and resources in a number of colleges and units at the UI, including the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, UI Foreign Language Acquisition Research and Education (FLARE) Program Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition (SLA), College of Education, Graduate College, College of Law, and Office of Vice President for Research.

Prior to the ceremony, UI graduate student Zhang Su will perform traditional Chinese music. The ceremony will begin with a martial arts demonstration by UI student Franklin Urion. Xu Jinzhong, the Consul General of the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, will provide remarks, along with UI Interim President Gary Fethke, UI Provost Michael Hogan and UI Confucius Institute Director Chuanren Ke. James Watson, a member of the institute's Board of Trustees, UI alumnus and professor of anthropology at Harvard University, will give the keynote speech. A reception will follow.

"In the next decade the new 'must learn' language is likely to be Chinese," said Ke, who is also an associate professor of Asian languages and literature and director of the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies. "It is clear that American education will be faced with the challenge to assist more students in the study of the language and that the field of Chinese language instruction will undergo profound transformations in order to respond effectively to this challenge. The Confucius Institute at the University of Iowa, with its missions to train Chinese language teachers for the 21st century and to conduct research on second language acquisition of Chinese, is well positioned to make a significant contribution to this national and global effort."

The first Confucius Institute authorized in the United States was at the University of Maryland. Today there are 90 Confucius Institutes in the world. Confucius Institutes have been established at major universities such as the University of London, University of British Columbia, the University of Auckland, Stockholm University and many others.

Those interested in attending should contact Rebecca Kessler, assistant to the Confucius Institute Director, at 319-335-0159 or confucius@uiowa.edu.

For more information on The UI Confucius Institute, visit: http://www.uiowa.edu/confucius/

The Confucius Institute is affiliated with UI International Programs. International Programs enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge.  For more information, visit http://intl-programs.uiowa.edu/ or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, lois-gray@uiowa.edu; Program: Rebecca Kessler, 319-335-0159 or rebecca-kessler@uiowa.edu; Writer: Kelli Andresen.