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.
I was excited when I heard that a Confucius Institute (CI) was opening in my area at The College of William and Mary. I had become increasingly fascinated by China in the few preceding years mainly due to its amazing record of modern development. I also knew that the country was facing major challenges to develop sustainably and smartly, and I wanted to be a part of assisting China in finding constructive solutions, ideally by working there. To better position myself for that role, I had already started to study Chinese on my own when I heard about the local CI opening. I happily signed up for a beginning Mandarin course.
I first began learning Mandarin Chinese in tenth grade when a friend asked me if I would take a dual enrollment course with her. Although I thought Chinese was too difficult to learn, I decided to take it with her, and to this day I am happy I made that decision. Now I am in college, and learning the language has been one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.
Monica E. Rhodes2018-03-29
My name is Monica E. Rhodes. I am sixty-one years old and am currently a sophomore at Texas Southern University where I am learning Chinese language and culture at the Confucius Institute. It has been an amazing experience for a number of reasons. I love to sing and have had the opportunity to sing beautiful Chinese songs before my fellow colleagues and faculty. I hope to add these beautiful songs to my repertoire as a wedding singer and broaden my network. I also enjoy eating out and love Chinese food, and now I place my order speaking the language and make my waiter or waitress smile. When I see my Chinese neighbors or even strangers, I can offer a friendly greeting of hello that is familiar to them.
Learning Mandarin Chinese language and culture was the best thing that has happened to me. It is a challenge to learn Mandarin but I enjoy hearing the sounds and seeing the writing of Chinese characters; I think it is a beautiful language. It is a great opportunity to learn Chinese because it could become the world’s next Lingua Franca.
I’ve been learning Chinese for over 10 years now, and yet, the language and culture never fails to surprise me. The stories behind every idiom and the pictures that so many characters evolved from show how much thought and depth exists in the Chinese language. In order to broaden my understanding of Chinese language and culture, I had to reach out. I was excited to see that Chinese was offered as a course at my high school and readily signed up for the class. Walking into class on the first day felt like I was entering a small piece of China. Our class taught Mandarin through the Confucius Institute, and as a result, I found myself constantly submerged in the Chinese culture. Over the next few years, walking into this classroom would mean 45 minutes of building friendships, gaining knowledge and observing Confucian principles. We discussed a wide range of topics from philosophy to where to find good food in China. I loved every second of it.
I have been learning Chinese for a little over five years now. I started learning Chinese when I first entered Enloe High School and continued learning Chinese there until I graduated. I continued to take Chinese classes at my current university. I like learning about the cultures of others, and I wanted to learn about Chinese culture. Because of this interest, I was really excited to find out that the high school I was going to attend offered Chinese. It was through my Chinese class at Enloe that I learned about the Confucius Institute. There were resources and events in class that were provided by the Confucius Institute at North Carolina State University. For example, Chinese students from NC State who came by my high school classroom to give a presentation on China and their experiences being in the United States. I was able to speak with a couple of the students and learn more about them. I also participated in the Chinese club that was offered at Enloe. Through the Chinese club, and in class, I participated in various events and festivals such as the Mid-Autumn Festival. There were even days where my teacher brought in Chinese food for the class to try. I even began to participate in the annual Chinese New Year Festival in Raleigh, where I saw various cultural performances and many exhibits.
As teenager in the 1960s, growing up in suburbs south of Boston, I fell under the grip of the tantalizing mysteries of the Chinese language. At home, I would leaf through weekly issues of Life and Look magazines and ponder the inscriptions on signs carried aloft by Chinese citizens. Someday, I told myself, I would uncover the meanings of those symbols.
Timothy Michael Brown2018-03-29
The Confucius Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park has broadened my passion for the language and culture of China. My first introduction to the Confucius Institute was in Xiamen, China. I have visited China twice. I learned so much about the country and I was able to use my Mandarin. I later recognized the Confucius Institute is one unit that assists non-Chinese speaking people with learning Chinese language and culture. This exposure revealed to me what I needed to succeed with my plans.
My Hongkongese mother started me off on my Chinese learning path by teaching me Cantonese from childhood. One of my first foreign language fumbles happened when I was a toddler. I still hear about this story today—my mother chuckles when she describes how difficult it was to teach me how to say “bone” in Cantonese, pronounced gwat. Somehow my imitation came out as “brat.” She would tell me the proper way of saying “bone” each day until I could pronounce it. I never would have guessed that this was simply the beginning to my interest in foreign language. Fast-forward a decade, Cantonese had taken a special place in my life—it is not only my roots and memories, but also my connection to my Hong Kong family.