More opportunities for students to discover and experience Chinese language and culture emerged last year when Dixie State University joined an international program meant to link China to the rest of the world.
The Confucius Institute at DSU was cultivated through a partnership with the University of Utah, and it provides students with chances to learn Chinese language and culture from teachers who have come to Utah from China, said Michelle Wu, an adjunct Chinese instructor at the Confucius Institute.
In addition to providing advanced language courses for DSU students, the institute offers events and activities for students to experience Chinese culture. A Chinese calligrapher and painter traveled from China to campus to share their work with DSU students Sept. 30. Wu said the institute will also be hosting a Chinese New Year celebration Feb. 19 and a language fair April 24.
Additionally, the Confucius Institute offers the community Chinese language education from China-native teachers through elementary, middle school and high school classes, Wu said.
“Now that DSU is a university we need more academic opportunities, so Chinese is an important part to meet the standards of other universities,” Wu said. “The Confucius Institute makes our university more multicultural, and it brings out diversity.”
Wu said when the Confucius Institute’s first China-native instructor arrived at DSU last year, the program began enhancing DSU’s academic status and presenting students with the chance to gain a leg-up in the competitive job market, specifically in international political or business opportunities.
“A lot of people speak Spanish or French, but if you can speak Chinese, it’s impressive,” Wu said. “And, of course, you’ll be more competitive than others who can’t speak a second language.”
Dustin Taylor, a general education major from Logandale, Nevada, attends the Confucius Institute and takes advanced Chinese language courses. He said ever since he returned from his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the United Kingdom — where he met many Chinese international students — Chinese culture has been a great passion of his.
Taylor said he values what the institute offers for his education, as he intends to one day become an FBI agent with specialized Chinese-speaking skills. So, he said DSU’s Confucius Institute is providing him with the quality of education he’ll need to excel in his future career.
“The classes are extremely important because a lot of people come home from foreign countries or missions learning Chinese, and then they come back and want to learn more, and without the Confucius Institute and the classes, we wouldn’t have that,” Taylor said. “Our teachers are straight from China, so it’s extremely helpful for anyone who has already been learning Chinese or has even learned it in high school and wants to go to that next level.”
Jake King, a junior business major from St. George, also attends the institute, and he said he appreciates how the program is supplementing his education for an international business career.
“From a business perspective, China is opening up in the global market like crazy, and knowing Chinese is really something that gives you an edge,” King said. “Having that here so I can do that along with all of my other business studies helps a lot.”
Wu said the Confucius Institute also offers students opportunities to study abroad in China to fully immerse themselves in the language and culture. A study abroad scholarship is awarded to students who achieve a high score on the Chinese proficiency test and demonstrate a high enough skill level in the interview and application process, Wu said.
Since DSU’s Confucius Institute began only last year, the program still has room to grow, with more instructors from China and more specialized classes, Wu said. Less than 50 students have enrolled in the program this semester, she said.
“I hope [the institute] keeps expanding,” King said. The upper-division classes obviously don’t have as high of a student enrollment, but it would be great to have more technical writing classes, more specialized business Chinese classes, or more classes specific for whatever major you want to go into.”
More information about study abroad opportunities is available at www.english.hanban.org. For additional information about the Confucius Institute, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.confucius-institute.utah.edu, or go to Room 213 of the McDonald Building.