UK Confucius Institute recognized internationally

By Olivia Jones

Going one step farther after receiving double funding for promising potential and past achievements, UK’s Confucius Institute recently was named the 2012 Confucius Institute of the Year.

According to the Confucius Institute’s official website, the award was presented in December at the World Confucius Institute Conference in Beijing.

UK’s program was granted one of the 26 titles given worldwide, among 430 other Confucius Institutes.

“It is a tremendous honor for the University of Kentucky and our Confucius Institute to receive this award. The recognition is particularly gratifying as our Institute was only established two years ago,” said interim Provost Tim Tracy, in a statement.

“We are the youngest of the Confucius Institutes to receive this recognition,” said Susan Carvalho, UK’s associate provost for international programs.

Dr. Huajing Maske, director of the UK Confucius Institute, who accepted the award in Beijing, said she was surprised, thrilled and honored that UK received the award.

“Name and recognition aside, the award is not only an acknowledgment of our excellence in the past years, but most important, it will bring in more program funding and resources,” Maske said.

“Which means we will be able to expand our services and programs on UK’s campus and in the community.” Carvalho said the UK Confucius Institute’s efforts to increase networks in China, which have benefited both researchers and students, probably played a part in receiving the recognition.

Maske said the title means a great deal not only to the institute, but to UK as well. The UK Confucius Institute’s achievement spells out the university name with bold letters, as it leads the other 430 Confucius Institute universities in the top three percentile range.

“The award certainly means that when we present new initiatives to HANBAN, they will carry a kind of guarantee of success,” Carvalho said an email. “For example, we are exploring the teaching of martial arts as a way of communicating both Chinese language and culture in ways that benefit student’s physical and intellectual health. This is the kind of original thinking that HANBAN likes to see.”

Accoring to Maske, institutes across the globe usually complete a self-nomination process to direct HANBAN’s Confucius Institute of the Year choice. HANBAN is the council that sponsors the institutes.

“Our case is the most unusual one; our funder nominated us instead of us self-nominating ourselves,” Maske said. “This shows that our funder must be so impressed by our achievements.”

HANBAN’s official website features seven pages dedicated to UK Confucius Institute accomplishments, including cultural aspects such as calligraphy, dance and culinary activities.

“People who work so hard to see their passions realized really need this kind of recognition, to know that their work is appreciated and valued,” Carvalho said regarding celebratory plans to involve the institute’s partners across campus and central Kentucky.

“We hope to make China accessible to UK undergraduates,” Carvalho said. “It has already made great strides partnering with the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. Together I think they offer amazing opportunities for UK graduates to be world-ready.”