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March 9, 2012

Did You Know?: Confucius Institute at Purdue

Huiqiang Zheng

Huiqiang Zheng demonstrates calligraphy in January during a New Year's event sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Purdue. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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The Confucius Institute at Purdue promotes Chinese language and culture on campus and in Greater Lafayette while providing resources for Chinese students who need help acclimating to local life.

This spring, the institute will sponsor a monthlong course aimed at helping Purdue students and area residents learn Chinese conversation and cultural etiquette that might be helpful while traveling in China. Already filled to capacity, the course includes instruction in basic Chinese phrases and other such practical knowledge, said Wei Hong, the institute's director and a professor of Chinese linguistics.

This May, the institute will help support a study abroad trip to China for Purdue students studying Chinese. And in July, the institute will host a weeklong educational camp for 20 high school students -- half from the Lafayette School Corp. and half from a high school in Shanghai as a cultural enrichment opportunity for both groups.

When the institute launched in May 2007, its creators intended it to be a champion of Chinese language and culture programs at Purdue and beyond, specifically among Greater Lafayette's businesses. Since then, though, the institute has expanded its horizons, Hong says.

"Another angle of our recent work is to help the students coming from China adjust to life here. They feel very comfortable knowing there's a Confucius Institute on campus where they can come and ask for help," Hong says. "We didn't realize at first that we could do that, but we're very happy to help out."

In addition to its courses and programs, the Confucius Institute hosts two New Year's celebrations on campus during the spring. The first is a reception for Purdue in general. The second is aimed at students and scholars from China, as well as at Chinese community members.

The institute also offers written translation services for official documents for a small fee, Hong says.

Created in conjunction with Purdue's China Center and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, the Confucius Institute at Purdue is one of many such institutes across the world. Purdue's Confucius Institute is in the Krannert Building, Room 546.

More information is online at www.purdue.edu/confucius.