- I met Meiru Liu, Executive Director of the Confucius Institute, Portland State University at a meeting of the Portland-Suzhou Sister City Committee. I had heard about the opening of the Institute in May 2007 just before I traveled to Shanghai and Suzhou. I was interested in the Chinese conversation classes to refresh my knowledge of a language I had studied many years ago in college. Because I had missed the opening of the institute and a deadline for the fall classes I hadn’t managed to begin class but Meiru told me that it wasn’t too late to begin and so I started class on November 8. Dr. Lina Lu conversed with our small class and although I struggled to remember Chinese words I felt at home with the group and ready to continue the challenge.
- When PSU opened the Confucius Institute in May there were dignitaries invited such as China’s Consul General Peng Keyu and Wang Zhuojun, Soochow University Council chairman. It was a goal to also announce an expanded agreement between PSU and Soochow University at Suzhou, China, that would facilitate an exchange of faculty and students. I went to Suzhou in late May on my own research and exchange project I found that I needed to devote more time to conversational Chinese so that I will be less reliant on others on my next trip. I don’t mind using interpreters it is just more fun to interact directly with people on a wider range of topics. If statistics from the Ministry of Education are correct that currently 30 million people overseas are learning Chinese I don’t want to be among the worst of foreign speakers of Chinese. Thankfully, the establishment of the Confucius Institute at PSU provided a new way to achieve my goal and Dr. Lu has been a great teacher. After just five classes my vocabulary and listening skills had improved and my confidence in speaking was raised too. I took a tablet pc to class with Vista Regional Settings set to Chinese and tried writing with some success. Look out for my future blog in Chinese!
- See CCTV story about Confucius Institute expansion around the world including Nairobi, Kenya