The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) on Thursday became home to Southern California's first and only Confucius Institute, one of dozens of similar institutes in the United States and across the world that are designed to foster an understanding of Chinese culture and language.
"Given the strategic location of Los Angeles and the breadth of China-related programs at UCLA, we see the creation of a Confucius Institute here as an irresistible opportunity to offer ways to fill a real need to promote learning and understanding between the two countries," UCLA's assistant provost Unruh said at the institute's opening ceremony.
Unruh, who aided the development of the institute on UCLA's Westwood campus, said the institute will build upon and enhance the strengths of existing activities in and around the Southern California region, where Chinese culture and community are abundant and commercial ties to China are increasing.
Scott Waugh, UCLA's acting executive vice chancellor who oversaw the creation of the institute on the campus, said that UCLA is an ideal place for the institute.
"We have a real stake at UCLA in this kind of work," he said. "The Confucius Institute will help bring people together around the issue of language training."
The UCLA-based institute will work with its regional partners to support Chinese-language education in K-12 public schools, including teacher certification, and to promote cultural and arts programming in the region, officials said.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which hosts UCLA's several ongoing China-exchange programs, is the educational partner in the UCLA Confucius Institute project.
The UCLA Confucius Institute is the latest in about 25 of such institutes in the United States established with support from the Chinese Ministry of Education's Office of Chinese Language Council International, or Hanban.
The institutes take their name from the 5th-century B.C. Chinese philosopher who emphasized personal and governmental morality and supported the idea of education for all people, regardless of their background.
Among other efforts, the UCLA institute will work with its regional partners throughout Southern California to develop opportunities for advanced language training, especially in the areas of translation and interpretation, according to Susan Pertel Jain, director of the institute.
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 37,000 undergraduates and graduate students.
(Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2007)