Confucius Institute Bringing Chinese Culture to Eastern Kentucky Schools

By Lauren Henrickson

(March 4, 2016) — Throughout the year University of Kentucky Confucius Institute (UKCI) brings Chinese cultural showcases to schools and communities around the Commonwealth, but this winter the UKCI team did a special weeklong trip to eastern Kentucky as part of a proposal by the Kentucky Department of Education.

During the December visit, a UKCI team of six specialists worked with more than 900 K-12 students, teaching classes and presenting varied performances, including acts of martial arts, Chinese painting, folk music using such Chinese instruments as the erhu and guzheng, paper cutting and calligraphy.

"From a young age, these students are given access to Chinese culture that they may have never had," said Huajing Maske, director of UKCI and executive director of the Office of China Initiatives. "Most importantly, these experiences will open up their minds."

Aside from performances, UKCI also offered classes for the students to participate in and learn about different aspects of Chinese culture. Some schools reported that their highest attendance rates were during the UKCI showcases and classes.

"I didn’t realize that the students rarely have a chance to learn about different cultures," said Lina Yu, community outreach coordinator for UKCI. "It seemed like anything we taught made the students more interested and excited."

Although these showcases are meant to expand and add to the cultural knowledge of the schools, the UKCI staff also benefits from the experiences working with a diverse group of students of all ages. Cultural events such as these help to strengthen UKCI’s mission to advance the understanding of China and UK’s strategic plan to increase community engagement in the Commonwealth.

A gateway for Chinese language, culture and art to the people of Kentucky, UKCI provides leadership, support and coordination for Chinese language and programs in K-12 schools as well as on UK's campus; assists and facilitates establishing and maintaining faculty and student exchanges between UK colleges and Chinese universities; conducts Chinese language and cultural exchange; and promotes education about China on campus, across the Bluegrass region, and throughout the Commonwealth. To keep up with UKCI and future events, join the institute's listerv and follow them on FacebookTwitter and Snapchat (UKConfucius).

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