China’s Minister of Education Yuan Guiren joined with Chinese State Councilor Madam Liu Yandong, Governor John Kitzhaber and other guests for the inauguration of 12 Confucius classrooms at Oregon schools.
China’s Minister of Education Yuan Guiren joined with Chinese State Councilor Madam Liu Yandong, Governor John Kitzhaber and other guests for the inauguration of 12 Confucius classrooms at Oregon schools. The ceremony was held at the Portland State School of Business last Friday.
The classrooms are part of a national network, funded by the Chinese government, that are designed to teach Chinese language and culture to U.S. K-12 students.
Student performances, ranging from nursery songs to a poetry recital, were part of the beginning of the ceremony, followed by speeches.
“Our Confucius Institute has been working closely with Oregon schools to establish 12 classrooms here,” PSU President Wim Wiewel said. “Our work is built on a solid foundation. Portland State University alone has 272 students from China…For me, this has a long history. My first academic article, published 40 years ago, was on the Chinese educational system.” ?
Guiren spoke after Wiewel, accompanied by a translator.
“In recent years, Oregon’s exchange and cooperation with China has been growing rapidly,” he said.
Guiren mentioned the bill passed by the Oregon Senate and House of Representatives last year that made the instruction of Mandarin Chinese available to all public schools—the first legislation in the U.S. to promote the study of the Chinese language in the school system.
“This shows the extraordinary vision of the State of Oregon in strengthening the exchange with China,” Guiren said.
Kitzhaber was last on the speaker’s list.
“We are celebrating a significant partnership between China and Oregon,” he said. “We all know that education is the cornerstone of our future. As a state, we want to make sure that current and future generations of Oregonians have the opportunity to better understand the Chinese people.”
Kitzhaber talked about Oregon’s history of promoting the study of Chinese language and culture. In 2008, St. Mary’s School in Medford was the first school to establish a Confucius classroom in the U.S. and all of Oregon’s major universities have exchange programs with universities in China.
“Without your support, it would not be possible for us to accomplish what we have set out to do,” Kitzhaber said to Guiren and Liu. “Thank you for your visit, your support and helping us make history.”
The 12 Confucious classrooms were then announced. Selected schools ran the K-12 gamut. Liu and Kitzhaber unveiled plaques for each of the classrooms.
After the ceremony, Liu and Kitzhaber posed for pictures with students.
JJ Salazar, a first-year student in the Master of International Management program at PSU, was one of the guests at the event.
“I think it’s a great idea to introduce the language as early as possible,” he said.
Several school-aged children attended the event, including a crowd from the International School, one of the selected campuses.
“It was a beautiful show, a nice international moment,” Alfonso Orsini, head of the International School, said. “We’re grateful to get support from the Chinese government; too bad we can’t get support from our own government.” ?