Stan Rockwell 2018-03-29
I have been involved with the Confucius Institute at the College of William and Mary for three years now. I have been practicing Taijiquan for about 16 years and was looking for a way to deepen my practice. I discovered WMCI through an Internet search and was delighted to see such a wonderful resource so close to home. I began by taking a course on the Chinese tea ceremony. Not only did I learn about the ceremony and about tea and the culture, I also got to know the people at WMCI - the teachers and administrators. All are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about sharing the rich and varied culture of China. Since then I have taken more classes, gone with WMCI on trips to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see an exhibit on the Forbidden City, attended celebrations like the Spring Festival, and attended concerts featuring visiting musical acts. I have gotten to see and even perform with visiting martial artists, and I now teach Taijiquan for WMCI, which also hosts World Taiji and Qigong Day here in Williamsburg. Through teaching and attending events at WMCI, I have gotten to know a number of faculty and undergraduate and graduate students not only from China, but also from the US and around the world.
WMCI is very involved in our community including neighboring Newport News and Christopher Newport University. Not long ago, I met up with folks from WMCI at an expo for caregivers of people with dementia. Musicians from WMCI have also played at day care programs for elderly persons and people with dementia. Experts and scholars are brought to W&M to discuss philosophy and politics and the world. WMCI has a library of books and videos on a wide variety of topics. I have studied Chinese philosophy for a long time and have found helpful translations of Zhuangzi, Laozi and others at WMCI. There are also useful resources on traditional Chinese medicine, herbs, tea, and more. Teaching Mandarin to students and community members is a big part of what WMCI does. Students of WMCI classes range in age from about 6 or 7 all the way to people in their 70s and beyond. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of all that the Confucius Institute at William and Mary offers.
I think what I most like about WMCI are the people. Our tea class often ran over time because we fell into long conversations about our families, growing up, history, politics, philosophies and religions. I have made friends there, and some even stay in touch after returning home to China to finish their degrees.
Being treated with kindness and graciousness has been a constant experience for me at WMCI. Everyone I have met has welcomed me with warmth, openness, respect, and friendship. The teachers are excellent. Their love and knowledge of what they teach and their enthusiasm for sharing the long and rich culture and history of China makes learning a joy. I am looking forward to taking more classes, attending more events, and just getting to know more folks at WMCI. It is a place that has the feel of home. As we say at William and Mary - one family, one tribe, and that spirit lives at WMCI not only at the College but in the Peninsula community.
The Confucius Institute at the College of William and Mary