Confucius Institute in Pittsburgh welcomes vice-premier

Updated: 2015-06-21 12:15

By AMY HE in Pittsburgh (China Daily USA)

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Confucius Institute in Pittsburgh welcomes vice-premier

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong visits an exhibition at the Confucius Institute at the University of Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon. Chen Weihua/China Daily

"We believe that this is for many kids an exposure they would never have at any other level, and yet we're able to reach kids in rural schools and public schools and private schools, who actually have some understanding and interest in China, and are really taking that step to become global citizens, which is what we really find to be the value," said Michele Ferrier Heryford, director of the institute.

Heryford told China Daily prior to the vice-premier's visit that more and more students have shown interest in both training to teach Chinese as a foreign language and in learning Chinese. The CI-Pitt is one of the first 25 Confucius Institutes established in the world, and was Confucius Institute of the Year in 2008, 2011 and 2013.

"We don't want to grow this so fast that we start losing the quality of what it is we're trying to do. We do have some leaps in enrollment from one year to the next, and that we really try to stay on top of it. We have so many people who, more districts who want in, that we're trying to figure out how to grow this in a way that's sustainable," she said.

Nicole Constable, director of the Asian Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh, said that Confucius Institutes are vital because in many schools, there aren't a lot of opportunities to study foreign languages.