KINGSTON, R.I. — November 16, 2007 — The University of Rhode Island celebrated the opening of its Confucius Institute on Oct. 25 with a drum roll. It was a different kind of roll on different kinds of drums, which made the event most noteworthy, especially in a library setting. There were also speeches, gifts, and musical performances. Participants came from China, Hawaii, New York, and Massachusetts.
After opening remarks, the drummers, troupe musicians from China’s Ningbo Yue Opera, drummed participants from the Galanti Lounge of the URI Library on the third floor to the new Confucius Hall on the first floor. There Hao Xiaofei, the Deputy Consulate General from the People’s Republic of China, President Robert L. Carothers, Ding Jianmin, director of the Office of International Relations, Zhejiang University, China and Yan Ma, professor of library and information studies and director of the Institute at URI, lifted the red velvet covering to unveil a gold Confucius Institute plaque.
Among the many gifts exchanged at the ceremonies were 3,000 books on Chinese culture, which will be housed in the URI Library. The Yue Opera donated some of its costumes to the Theatre Department, traditional Chinese instruments to the Music Department, and recordings, documents, and photographs to the URI Library. President Carothers and Ma received an artistic silk scroll from URI’s partner university, Zhejiang University. The inscription on the scroll read: Congratulations on the Opening of the Confucius Institute at URI on October 25, 2007. It was inscribed in red, which means celebrating, happy, and lucky event, according to Ma.
The Confucius Cultural Ambassador Award was presented to President Carothers. “President Carothers is a model of what Confucius promoted. The president received the award for his leadership, vision, and support of the Confucius Institute and other Chinese programs at URI,” said Ma.
As part of the opening ceremonies, the Yue Opera musicians played traditional music, and members of the opera company performed some scenes from the Chinese opera, Butterfly Lovers. The entire opera was performed at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence two days later. It was the first time the troupe performed the opera in the United States. Five URI students participated in the opera.
URI became one of only 20 Confucius Institutes in the United States, and one of only 156 in the world. That number is growing as China reaches out to the global community so that it’s language and culture can be better understood.
URI’s Confucius Institute creates formal ties between the University and China’s Zhejiang University to strengthen and promote educational programs and exchanges, broadening global opportunities for students, faculty, and the larger community.
The Institute has offices on the Kingston and Feinstein Providence Campuses to oversee Chinese language and cultural programs.
Some of URI’s business, engineering, and library students have already traveled and studied in China.
Last year, the Chinese Language Council International financed a Chinese language instructor, Wen Xiong, who taught 75 students taking beginning or intermediate Mandarin. This past summer the office has agreed to fund two more language instructors, support the opera, and other cultural projects. This fall, 84 URI students are enrolled in Chinese languages classes.
Hao Xiafei, Deputy Consulate General from the People’s Republic of China, New York and Robert L. Carothers, president of the University of Rhode Island, unveil the Confucius Institute plaque during opening ceremonies. URI photo by Michael Salerno.
URI students (l-r) Liz Preuss of Manchester, Conn., Allie Dennis of Westerly, and Auriane Koster of Wakefield prepare to dance in the Yue Opera’s production of Butterfly Lovers. URI photo by Michael Salerno.
Stars of China’s Yue Opera’s Butterfly Lovers prepare to perform during opening ceremonies of the Confucius Institute at URI. URI photo by Michael Salerno