By: Cheryl Kirby-Stokes - iReporter
By: Cheryl Kirby-Stokes - iReporter

Led by traditional Chinese Lion Dancers to summon luck and fortune, several hundred people entered Helm Library Friday to participate in the new Confucius Institute Chinese Learning Center at Western Kentucky University.
WKU President Gary Ransdell said it is important to understand the role world cultures and economies play and how what happens in China can impact the United States. By becoming home to the first Confucius Institute in Kentucky, WKU strives to help the university and the community be better prepared for the world economy.
“China is a world language in the planet we share,” Dr. Ransdell said.
The Chinese Learning Center, located on the first floor of the Helm Library, contains artwork, multimedia exhibits and 3,000 volumes in space designed to look like a traditional Chinese setting. Dr. Ransdell said the location was selected because the library is the centerpiece for learning on a university campus.
“We put this right in the front door so that every student who goes in our library has to go through China to get there,” he said. “There are so many dimensions to our Chinese Learning Center that will add to the richness of learning on this campus.”
In a letter of congratulations, Madame Xu Lin, Director General of Hanban of the Chinese Education Ministry and Chief Executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, praised WKU’s CI for the progress made in its first year.
“The Confucius Institute has made outstanding achievement in advancing teachings of the Chinese language and cultivating more local Chinese language teachers in the state of Kentucky,” she said. “Now the Confucius Institute’s Chinese Learning Center has been established, it will provide to the university students and local residents more abundant Chinese learning resources and serve as a brand new Chinese culture experience platform.”
Wei-Ping Pan, Director of the CI at WKU, said that during the past year, the CI placed 11 volunteer teachers in elementary, middle and high schools and offered community Chinese language classes for youth and adults. The CI also sponsored several Chinese culture activities in the community.
This summer, Dr. Pan said an additional 18 teachers will arrive from China to be placed in 21 schools. The CI will also offer additional language and culture classes for the university and the community.
Prior to the ribbon cutting by the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, the opening ceremony included several cultural performances:
*A traditional song performed in Mandarin Chinese by students from W.R. McNeill Elementary School in Bowling Green
*A music and dance performance by the Love for China Dance Troop from North China Electric Power University in Beijing
*A presentation of traditional Chinese cultural dress modeled by the adult Chinese language class and CI staff
*A performance by the Baker Youth String Student Class, under the direction of Master Violinist Dr. Ching-Yi Lin
*A performance by the East West Kung-Fu Academy of Bowling Green
*A performance by the Pfeiffer University Confucius Institute Kung-Fu Troupe from Charlotte, N.C.

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