Maine’s First Confucius Institute

Dear CAFAM members,

The following message is from Theodora J. Kalikow, President, University of Southern Maine.

I’m pleased to announce that, beginning this fall, USM will host Maine’s first Confucius Institute.

In partnership with Dongbei University of Finance and Economics in Dalian, China, USM has established this new Confucius Institute to provide a regional, and eventually, statewide resource for educators, business professionals, and community members to engage in Chinese language and cultural studies. The USM Confucius Institute joins 400 institutes throughout the world and 90 institutes nationwide.

We will begin offering programs through the institute this fall. The School of Education and Human Development has taken the lead in reaching out to schools throughout southern Maine to offer teacher training and classroom programs. The school has already started recruiting for the new Chinese Teacher Education Program for K-12 educators, which will serve as an excellent professional development resource for Maine teachers. Several school districts- including Portland, Gorham, Falmouth, and Scarborough- have already requested to host onsite programs through the USM Confucius Institute. A new course, Chinese Language and Culture, will also be offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute this fall.

Through the next few years, we will continue to grow the institute’s offerings and strengthen its impact through collaboration with local cultural and international organizations, businesses, libraries, and government agencies. An initial relationship with the Chinese American Friendship Association of Maine has provided a strong foundation for this growth.

As part of our partnership, Dongbei University will be providing three faculty members to staff the institute. This August, we will welcome Zhao Yue, vice dean of Dongbei University’s International Institute of Chinese Language and Culture, and her colleagues. They will be housed in Bailey Hall, with the School of Education and Human Development, and will work closely with the school to reach the broader primary and secondary education community in Maine.

Dr. Joseph McDonnell, dean of the USM College of Management and Human Service, will serve as director of the Confucius Institute. Dean McDonnell has experience in Chinese culture and business practice and served on the Stony Brook University Confucius Institute Advisory Board. The institute will also benefit from the leadership of a board directors, which will include Professor Ah-Kau Ng of the USM Department of Applied Medical Science, Superintendent Ted Sharp of the Gorham School District, Dean McDonnell, myself, and four representatives from Dongbei University.

Planning has begun for an inaugural celebration, scheduled for Wednesday, September 25, on the Gorham campus. You will all be invited to join me, members of the Chinese consulate, and representatives from Dongbei for an evening of festivities, including a Chinese dance performance, art exhibit, and ceremonial tree planting. We will share more details when they are finalized. In the meantime, I encourage you to learn more about Dongbei (which offers 38 doctoral degrees, 72 master’s degrees, and 31 undergraduate programs!) and our new sister city, Dalian, which, like Portland, is a picturesque port city on the northeast coast.

Please join me in welcoming our visiting Chinese faculty this fall and in celebrating this new partnership and new opportunity to serve our region and state. Hosting the Confucius Institute is an extraordinary opportunity for USM and the state of Maine

Sincerely yours,

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