2018 Confucius Institute National Honors Gala

Students Lead the Way in Connecting the United States and China

Building Community, Changing Lives

WASHINGTON, DC (September 21, 2018) – The Confucius Institute U.S. CIUS Center’s third annual National Honors Gala at the National Press Club on September 15, 2018, recognized the accomplishments of ten exemplary Confucius Institute students selected from universities and school systems across the country. More than 220 guests including distinguished business leaders, educators, public officials, diplomats, media representatives, and artists joined in celebrating the value of global education and the importance of people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States.

Ten Confucius Institute Students Received “People-to-People Award”

This year’s ten honorees (ages 12 through 76!) hailed from nine different states and were selected based on their personal stories and active engagement with Chinese language development, cultural awareness, and global education programs. Many of them received commendation letters from their Congressional representative.

Congressman Matt Salmon - an outspoken advocate for strengthening US-China relations

Former Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon, himself fluent in Mandarin, stressed the important work of Confucius Institutes in the United States. “The best thing … to improve this relationship and make it healthy and strong is mutual understanding. And, what better way is there to mutually understand one another than to mutually understand one another's language, and to mutually understand one another's culture?”

“When [CIUS Center Executive Director] Gao asked me to participate on the board of the Confucius Institute [U.S. Center], I jumped at the chance … I'm just really proud to be a constant advocate of strengthening the bilateral ties between the United States and China.”

Confucius Institutes likely the most diverse educational program in the world

With more than 500 institutes around the globe, Confucius Institutes may possibly be the most diverse educational program on the planet. In the United States, more than 100 institutes in 49 states provide demand-driven educational programs addressing the needs of each community. Confucius Institute programs make Chinese language instruction and cultural awareness activities available to many communities who would not otherwise have the resources for them.


Dr. Dan Mote, President of the National Academy of Engineering, President Emeritus of the University of Maryland, and Founder of the first Confucius Institute, called this global education network “unique, innovative and important. In fact, you cannot think of another program in the world history like this program.”

Confucius Institutes also aim to serve communities with disabilities and American Sign Language interpretation was provided at the Gala. One of this year’s honorees, Kamila Carter of San Diego State University Confucius Institute, age 12, was born into a deaf family. She stole the show with an inspiring performance in Chinese Sign Language.

Education is at the core of people-to-people exchanges

Dr. Chihombori-Quao, Ambassador for the African Union to the United States, served on the Honorary Committee for this year’s Gala. "The 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in September marked a historical development in the China-Africa relationship,” she remarked. “One of the most important elements in this relationship is people-to-people exchanges. Education brings people together. We need more educational programs that strengthen these exchanges across the world."

2018 National Honors Gala Honorary Host Committee

Mr. Bertrand-Marc Allen
President of Boeing International

The Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Former Administrator of NASA

Dr. Hank M. Bounds
President of University of Nebraska - Lincoln

The Honorable Carole L. Brookins
Managing Director of Public Capital Advisors LLC

Dr. Timothy C. Caboni
President of Western Kentucky University

Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao
Ambassador for the African Union to the United States

Mr. Tony Culley-Foster
Founder/President of CFCO International

The Honorable Joseph Duffey
Former President of American University

Mr. James B. Heimowitz
President of China Institute

The Honorable Darin LaHood
U.S. Representative for Illinois

The Honorable Ray LaHood
Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Mr. William McCarren
Executive Director of The National Press Club

The Honorable Jim Moran
Former U.S. Representative for Virginia

Dr. C.D. Mote, Jr.
President of National Academy of Engineering

The Honorable Nick Rahall II
Former U.S. Representative for West Virginia

The Honorable Matt Salmon
Former U.S. Representative for Arizona

Mr. Frederick Thomas
President & Chief Executive of MHz Networks LLC

Dr. Leslie E. Wong
President of San Francisco State University