On the last Saturday of September, Confucius Institutes around the world organise activities to mark ‘Confucius Institute Day’. This is a time to reflect on our work, share our successes and achievements, and celebrate our part in the global Confucius Institute network.
We marked the occasion with a busy week full of events that demonstrate our commitment to spreading knowledge of Chinese language, culture, and business. Visit our Flickr or Facebook pages to see photos from the events.
This year the week running up to Confucius Institute Day coincided with Freshers Week here at the University of Leeds, giving us the perfect opportunity to meet new and returning students from the UK and further afield. The Freshers Fair takes place at Leeds University Union over multiple days, featuring a whole host of student societies, University services, and companies vying for students’ attention.
Our team stood out in their traditional Chinese clothing, and students were delighted to receive custom bookmarks with their name handwritten in Chinese calligraphy.
At the Fair, our focus is on telling non-Chinese students about our Chinese courses, China Camp, events, scholarships, exams, and more. Each year more and more people are able to surprise us by speaking excellent Chinese, and we find that even students with no experience of the language are keen to know more and give it a go.
A home-from-home for Chinese students
We also love meeting students from China who are interested in volunteering with us. On our first day at the Fair it was also Mid-Autumn Festival, a time that is traditionally spent with family. We know that students can feel homesick at this time, particularly when they have just started University in a new city, and feel honoured to be a kind of ‘home-from-home’ for Chinese students, giving them a platform to share their own language and culture with others.
China in Africa Symposium
As our team spent two busy days at the Freshers Fair, speakers from Africa and London were preparing to travel to Leeds for our China in Africa Symposium. The waiting list to attend the event continued to grow during the week as word spread about the esteemed panel of experts who would be here to speak on this subject.
After a welcome from our Director Giles Blackburne, attendees enjoyed presentations on a range of topics including industrial strategy, security, and the media portrayal of China and Africa’s relationship. Dr Joshua Ogweno, Director of the Confucius Institute at Egerton University in Kenya, shared their experience of running unique agricultural development programmes through their Institute.
See the full line up and event description on the event listing, and look out for some follow up information from the event coming soon.
The final event of the week was an opportunity to slow down the pace and welcome visitors into our offices to have a chat about our activities and how we can help them in their life and studies. This allowed us to showcase our extensive library of resources, which students are able to browse and borrow, as well as explain in more detail about exams, courses, China camps, and scholarships.
This is the second time we have held an Open Day and once again it was a pleasure to spend more time getting to know our visitors and understanding their needs. With impromptu performances on the guzheng taking place during the day and tea being served in the meeting room, there was a friendly and relaxed atmosphere!
Supporting East Asian Studies (EAST)
Lots of EAST students came by to see how BCI activities can complement their studies here at the University of Leeds. The University has an over 50 year history of teaching Chinese at EAST, and with a Confucius Institute on campus to supplement the excellent teaching available to them on their courses, they can be sure they are in the right place to develop their Chinese language skills! Confucius Institute Scholarships can help them financially in their Study Year Abroad, and EAST students are ideal candidates for the Chinese Bridge Competition. This is in addition to the language workshops and Chinese Proficiency Exams that they have access to through the BCI.
Happy Confucius Institute Day!
Thank you to everyone who has supported our Freshers Week events. Meeting and talking to so many of you, and hearing about your passion for Chinese language and culture, has been the perfect way for us to celebrate Confucius Institute Day.