Troy, China solidify bonds

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, March 29, 2012

The dedication of the Confucius Institute at Troy University Thursday will help to bridge cultural gaps and create partnerships that will bring China and Alabama closer together, said Troy University officials and visiting Chinese dignitaries.

The ceremony formally dedicated the Confucius Institute’s permanent offices at Bibb Graves Hall.

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. said the Confucius Institute, which was established at the University in 2007, is an example of soft diplomacy, which establishes relationships that foster a greater understanding between the cultures and a greater appreciation for each other.

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“This is a big day for Troy University, our partner institution Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology and for the State of Alabama,” Hawkins said. “Through the partnerships that have been and will continue to be developed through the Confucius Institute, the people of Alabama will be well served.”

The Confucius Institute at Troy University is the state’s only center for cultural, language and business exchange with China.

“There now 325 such Institutes in 100 counties worldwide,” Hawkins said. “There are 23 Institutes in the United States and Alabama is the only location for a Confucius Institute in a less populated state.”

Hawkins said former Gov. Bob Riley was instrumental in securing $8 million in state appropriations for the renovation of the 40,000-square foot facility.

“This is an outstanding facility for learning and for the sharing of cultures,” Hawkins said. “The Institute is one facet of the University’s commitment to preparing students to compete globally.

“At Troy University, we have made a commitment to ensure that our students are prepared to live, think and act globally. The Confucius Institute at Troy University will enable our students and the people of Alabama to become familiar with the Chinese language, history and culture and also will provide an economic development component that will help to create relationships. Those types of relationships are vitally important within the Asian culture.”

Consul General Xu Erwen, whose consulate in Houston, Texas represents China in 13 states including Alabama, commended Troy University for the leadership it has shown through the development of the Institute.

“I want to express my deep appreciation to Troy University and to Chancellor Hawkins for the leadership they have provided in establishing this most impressive Confucius Institute,” Xu said. “This Institute represents a great opportunity for cooperation between China and the United States. Troy University is an internationally minded university and today’s dedication is an important step in creating a bridge between the Chinese and American people.”

Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dr. Tommy Bice, State Superintendent of the Alabama Department of Education, and Shuliang Guo, Deputy Director of the Education Department of the Hebei Province, signed a memorandum of understanding that will clear the way for partnerships and cultural exchanges.

The Confucius Institute is a non-profit public institute aiming at promoting Chinese language and culture and supporting local Chinese teaching through affiliated Confucius Institutes worldwide. Its headquarters is in Beijing, under the Office of the Chinese Language Council International.