Confucius Institute organizing summer programs

Trey Crumbie

The Confucius Institute is planning on having a busy summer.

Over the next three months, the Confucius Institute will be hosting six programs, including training Chinese teachers abroad and multiple trips to China.

The goal of Confucius Institute at WKU is to disseminate the Chinese culture. This is done through a myriad of ways, such as encouraging WKU students to study abroad in China and teaching Chinese culture to K-12 students in school systems across Kentucky.

Terrill Martin, managing director of the Confucius Institute, said now that the institute has established a presence after its start at WKU five years ago, it is trying to expand beyond just exposing students to Chinese culture.

“Our focus has really shifted to proficiency,” he said. 

From May 17 to 28, 16 Gatton Academy students will travel to China on a “research intensive program” centered on China’s high-speed rail system.

Martin said many Gatton students are interested in engineering and mathematics, so the trip will allow them to research a national relevant topic pertaining to their interests.

“That’s one of the things that the U.S. has been talking about for years, is building an intricate high-speed rail system,” he said.

Lynette Breedlove, director of the Gatton Academy, and Derick Strode, assistant director for academic services for Gatton, will be accompanying the students on the trip.

Breedlove said Gatton will also explore a partnership with the Tsinghua International School, and their premier high school in China, similar to Gatton. Breedlove said she hopes the Gatton students will learn a lot while abroad.

“We think it’s really valuable to get to know other cultures,” she said.

Another WKU program, lasting from May 23 to 31, will send Lynn Hines, professional in residence in the school of Teacher Education, and Martha Day, assistant professor in the School of Teacher Education, to China to help Confucius Institute teachers obtain Kentucky’s five-year Rank 1 teaching certification.

Day said when training Chinese teachers for American school systems, interactivity is heavily emphasized. 

“There needs to be lots of inquiring,” she said. “Lots of small group activity— lots of hands-on learning.”

Day said she is interested in training teachers because she witnessed her mother, an immigrant from Japan, struggle as she adjusted to life in the United States.

“It is very rewarding work to help people who take the initiative to live and work in a culture other than their own and help them acclimate, help them feel connected, help them feel welcome in the new culture,” she said.

Other programs offered this summer include a trip to China for 19 high school students and a group of 20 individuals, consisting of Bowling Green business leaders, WKU professors and medical professionals, teaching business and medical leadership in China. 

Martin said he is excited about the Confucius Institute and how it has grown over the years.

“I was with the program from the very beginning,” he said. “And to see where we’ve come with the help of faculty and the students and the community members… really getting on board and supporting our programs is just phenomenal.”