UH Manoa and Beijing Foreign Studies University agree to establish exchange program

Establishment of Confucius Institute will support education of Chinese language teachers in the US

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Ronald Brown, (808) 956-6549
Center for Chinese Studies
Posted: Mar 29, 2006

HONOLULU - Senior UH Mānoa administrators and President Hao Ping of Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) last Friday signed a memorandum of understanding to establish exchange programs for faculty and students. Eventually the agreement is expected to lead to establishment of a Confucius Institute at the Mānoa campus to support the education of Chinese language teachers for US schools nationwide.

Mānoa Vice Chancellor Neal Smatresk spoke of the importance of international partnerships to the success of the University of Hawaiʻi, especially the extensive array of agreements with China‘s institutions of higher education. He said, "We see this agreement as a ʻgateway‘ that opens the way to extending our relationships with China‘s universities."

President Hao, during the signing ceremony, acknowledged UH leadership in Asian language studies, and also noted that the UH English as a Second Language (ESL) program is widely regarded as "the best in the world."

BFSU is highly regarded as one of China‘s most prestigious schools for the study of languages. The school regularly offers instruction in more thirty languages, and most of the country‘s diplomats and foreign relations officials are graduates of this "Chinese Georgetown." In addition to the Chinese enrollment of 4,500 students, nearly 1,000 students from around the world study Chinese language there each year, offering many opportunities for language and cultural exchange.

Mānoa Center for Chinese Studies director Ronald Brown said, "By all estimates, the US will have a huge shortage of Chinese language teachers by next year, when the College Board‘s Advanced Placement (AP) Exam in Chinese becomes available. There are currently approximately 200 schools (K-12) offering Chinese language classes nationally. However, two thousand schools have indicated their intent to offer Chinese instruction by 2007.

"As you can imagine," Brown said, "Chinese language professionals are now scrambling for resources to meet the looming demand for trained, qualified Chinese language teachers. We think we can begin to help meet that demand."

The UH Mānoa Center for Chinese Studies, with nearly 50 faculty specializing in research and teaching about China, is the largest in the world outside of Asia. UH Mānoa has also been singled out for extra support by the US Department of Education with its designation as a National Resource Center for East Asian Studies (with a focus on China, Japan, and Korea) — one of 13 such centers nationwide. Mānoa is also a National Foreign Language Resource Center — one of only a dozen in the US. In addition, the US Department of Education funds the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at Manoa‘s College of Business Administration.

President Hao characterized today‘s event as somewhat of a "homecoming." He was a student at UH Mānoa in the early 1990s, earning a Master‘s Degree in History in 1995. "China‘s Ministry of Education has been very supportive of our international agreements, Hao said, "and we can expect the same as we proceed to carry out this current agreement."

He added, "I have also had a productive discussion with the University of Hawaiʻi Law School about arrangements to send our students to their campus, with perhaps as many as one hundred Chinese students coming here during the summer.