Confucius Institute to host spring gala


WKU’s Confucius Institute is preparing for its Chinese Spring Gala on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Downing University Center auditorium.

The gala, which is being presented in partnership with Hubei University’s dance group, is in celebration of 2012 as the Year of the Dragon by the Chinese calendar.

Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, the Confucius Institute’s assistant director for educational outreach, said the gala will not only feature traditional lion and dragon dancing, but also calligraphy demonstrations, Tai Chi fan dances and classical Chinese instrumental pieces.

Terrill Martin, associate director for the Confucius Institute, said WKU is one stop on Hubei University’s performance tour. The Chinese education ministry, Hanban, which founded the Confucius Institutes around the world, picked Hubei as a touring university for the Confucius Institutes in the southeastern United States, Martin said.

“Part of the experience as a college student is to experience new things,” Kirby-Stokes said. “One way to do that is to come to uniquely cultural events like this.”

Kirby-Stokes said after last year’s successful gala that she predicts “standing room only” for this year’s presentation.

“We’ve got about 400 school children of various ages, currently learning Chinese in school, who are attending the performance,” she said. “I recommend for anyone who wants to attend to get there early.”

Hubei University, located in the capital of China’s Hubei province, has partnered with more than 70 universities across the globe, according to its website. The university has co-established two of its own Confucius Institutes and takes an active role in promoting Chinese language and culture, according to the website.

“Attending this gala would allow students to experience new things and the world around them without ever having to leave Bowling Green,” Kirby-Stokes said.

Martin looks forward to a first in his Chinese cultural learning experience.

“The gala will be the first time I’ve ever seen a dragon dance live,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to the most.”