Students in Barren, Logan and Warren counties are learning about Chinese language and culture directly from 11 teachers from China.
The program is an early benefit of WKU’s Confucius Institute (CI), the first CI in Kentucky. The teachers are providing instruction in Chinese language and culture at Glasgow, Greenwood, South Warren, Warren East and Logan County high schools as well as Parker Bennett Curry, McNeill, Lewisburg and Olmstead elementary schools. They will be in Kentucky through July.
Classes include lessons in Chinese calligraphy, art, music and cooking. In addition to their teaching duties, they will assist with the Super Saturdays classes offered by WKU’s Center for Gifted Studies, participate in the Bowling Green International Festival and be a part of WKU’s summer language camps.
The instructors will also be learning about American culture by living with host families. WKU President Gary Ransdell said this kind of exchange is important as China’s role in the world economy grows.
“Chinese will soon be a world language,” Dr. Ransdell said. “The economic and cultural interdependency of the United States and China cannot be overestimated. Our intent is to expand Chinese instruction in elementary, middle and high schools across Kentucky. This is a great start for Kentucky’s first Confucius Institute.”
While they just arrived July 30, they are already having an impact.
“They’ve already added so much to the school and to our students’ education,” Dr. Janet Hurt, associate superintendent of Logan County Schools, said. “We look forward to hosting other Confucius Institute teachers in all our schools in the future.”
Deana Groves, who is hosting Guo Ruijie as she teaches at McNeill Elementary in Bowling Green, said she is excited about the opportunity for her and her family to learn about Chinese culture.
“Both of our daughters were born in China,” Groves said. “Giving our daughters the chance to gain first hand a deeper understanding of the language and culture of their birth country through living with a Chinese citizen fills a void in their lives that we as American parents could never fill.”
Nicole Clark and her family are hosting Wang Xi, who is teaching at Warren East High School in Bowling Green. She met the CI instructors while in China this summer and said her family initially debated making the commitment because of concerns about how much time might be involved.
“We decided if these teachers are willing to come here for a year, they deserve to have a great American experience,” Clark said. “We also feel this is another opportunity for us to ‘give more than you take’ from life.”
Clark and other public school teachers and administrators traveled to China this summer through a Fulbright-Hays grant written by Dr. Jianliang Wang, associate professor of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research. They studied the Chinese educational system, focusing on the core areas of civilization, history and geography; education and language; government and political, social and economic development; and population and social welfare.
About the Confucius Institute at WKU: The WKU Confucius Institute, a collaboration between the Chinese Language Council International (HANBAN) and China’s Sichuan International Studies University (SISU), serves to promote Chinese language and cultural exchange throughout Kentucky. Working with education, business and government, the WKU Confucius Institute enhances understanding and appreciation for the Chinese language and culture by sponsoring K-12 Chinese language programs, exhibits, performances and visiting artists and scholars from China.
A school or family interested in hosting a Confucius Institute Instructor should contact Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, Educational Outreach Coordinator, at (270) 745-2836 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.