Northern Colorado may not be the first place people would think to go to broaden their understanding of Chinese language and culture, but that could change in the coming years, as CSU has recently been selected by the Chinese government to host a Confucius Institute.
â€œThis really, in many ways, is an exclamation point to many of the China activities that weâ€™ve been pursuing at Colorado State University,â€ said Jim Cooney, vice provost for International Affairs at CSU.
The center will be housed in a university building off of College Avenue on the Chinese governmentâ€™s dollar. Throughout future school years, three Chinese instructors from Hunan University â€“â€“ one of the most prestigious in the nation â€“â€“ will staff it and arrange language and culture programs open for CSU students and community members to participate in.
The United States is home to 65 Confucius institutes. Worldwide, there are more than 300.
â€œItâ€™s quite an honor for Colorado State to be named a Confucius Institute,â€ Cooney said, explaining that Chinese officials are slow to place the centers within the U.S. provided that so many already exist in the nation. â€œTo be honest, theyâ€™re not announcing very many new Confucius Institutes in the U.S.â€
And to CSUâ€™s sole Chinese language instructor, Chuchang Chiu, who single-handedly manages the universityâ€™s 90 Chinese language students, the centerâ€™s announcement comes as welcome news.
â€œI think it will be really helpful to help me promote Chinese culture and (our) language program in the community,â€ she said.
When the institute comes to town, Chiu said she will not be the only one organizing northern Colorado language competitions involving CUâ€“Boulder, Denver University and Colorado College.
Sheâ€™s also not going to be the sole provider of private Chinese lessons for the heads of Fort Collins businesses like Hewlett Packard and Bella Energy, traveling to the nation to visit their companyâ€™s assembly factories.
And now, Fort Collins Police Services and courthouses wonâ€™t have to contact her every time they need translation services.
â€œItâ€™s all on a volunteer basis, and I donâ€™t have time,â€ Chiu said. â€œIâ€™m the only one here and I teach 18 credits to 21 credits a semester.â€
And her students agree.
â€œChuchang is the Chinese program as far as weâ€™re concerned,â€ said Cortney Brumley, president of the universityâ€™s Chinese club.
The CSU senior microbiology major said she looks forward to partnering with the Confucius Institute to host social events like karaoke nights, cooking lessons and other networking opportunities.
And now, CSU students may not be the only attendees to such outings.
â€œTo see it throughout the community and not just at the school is really exciting,â€ she said.
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.