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University Offers First-Ever Mandarin Course

10th February, 2012

People in Fiji and around the region will now have the opportunity to learn the Chinese language by taking the Mandarin courses offered by the Confucius Institute at the University of the South Pacific.

The University successfully launched the first Mandarin course at the new Confucius Institute building located at the Laucala Campus in Suva, on 3 February, 2012The Confucius Institute was established at USP following an agreement between the University and the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT) with the approval of Hanban - the Confucius Institute headquarters.

About 70 students from various sectors like government departments, Chinese companies and tourist service providers are expected to take up the new course.

The new course focuses on basic daily social communication skills of Chinese Mandarin - listening and speaking. It starts with Chinese pronunciation, and includes the most practical communication tasks needed to meet the basic requirements of daily life in China.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra described the opening of the Mandarin course as the foundation for a concrete relationship between the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China and the University.

“USP needs to engage with the major players in the world and China is definitely one of them, so for us it is a very important development. We see this as the beginning of what should be a bigger partnership between China and USP,” he added.

Professor Chandra acknowledged the support provided by the People’s Republic of China, Hanban and BUPT towards the establishment of the Confucius Institute at USP.

Currently, there are four members based at the Institute: one local director, one Chinese director and two Chinese language teachers.

According to the Vice-Chancellor, the proposal to establish such an institution in the Pacific initially came from the Pacific Islands Forum many years ago when it recognised China’s increasing presence in the Pacific and the lack of people in the region with conversational skills in the Chinese language.

The Confucius Institutes, which are aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture, are spread across 105 countries around the world.

Professor Chandra also highlighted USP’s plans to further engage with BUPT in the future.

He thanked those who attended the ceremony including the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency, Mr Huang Yong.

In his remarks, H.E. Mr Huang stated that the Confucius Institute at USP offers an opportunity for local people to learn the Chinese language and to better understand China. It also provides a platform for educational and cultural exchange.

“The friendly collaboration between China and Fiji has been booming in various fields and there has been growth in demand for Chinese language and cultural learning in the local societies,” he noted.

H.E. Mr Huang acknowledged the role played by USP in offering the Mandarin course. He also thanked Professor Chandra and other members of the University for contributing towards the establishment of the Confucius Institute.

The Directors of the Confucius Institute at USP, Professor Denggui Li and Ms Joan Yee said that the new course marks an important stage in the development of the Institute.

While congratulating the first cohort of students who were present at the opening of the course, both Professor Li and Ms Yee reminded them to work hard to learn the Chinese language and understand the Chinese culture and to become “messengers” between China and Fiji in the fields of economics, culture and education.

“The Confucius Institute at USP will be your Chinese home in Fiji forever,” the students were told.

The ceremony was well attended by delegates from the Chinese Embassy, representatives from secondary schools, members of the University’s Senior Management Team, staff and students as well as the media.



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