2019 Confucius Institute National Honors Gala

Confucius Institute students Recognized in Washington, DC

Pushing Forward: Local Initiative, Global Impact, Lifelong Community

Notwithstanding the challenging climate in U.S.-Chinese relations and exchanges, hundreds of people from across the United States gathered to celebrate the achievements of ten award-winning students at the annual Confucius Institute National Honors Gala on September 14, 2019. This gathering marked the fourth annual gala of the Confucius Institute US Center, held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, which recognizes the accomplishments of exemplary Confucius Institute students from universities and school systems across the country.

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

This year’s honorees – ages 9 through 78 have benefited from active engagement with Chinese language development, cultural awareness, and global education through Confucius Institute programs.  Many of them received commendation letters from their Congressional representative.

University President Dr. Robbyn Wacker

Expressing her support of the Confucius Institute at St. Cloud University, University President Dr. Robbyn Wacker, the keynote speaker, said, “Our mission and strategic plans specifically direct our educational endeavors to ensure that students will be able to engage as members of a diverse, multicultural world.  At St. Cloud State our Confucius Institute is a vitally important way that we make good on this educational promise.”

Speaking on the importance of strengthening US-Chinese relations through mutual understanding President Wacker said, ” So it goes without saying understanding Chinese History, language, government structure, and culture is important no matter what field of study, no matter what country one lives in.  Understanding China is of fundamental importance to the future of the 21st century.”

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, Confucius Institutes 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, said of this global education network “The Confucius Institute program is unique in history, that’s still the case.  It’s a truly amazing program.”

Confucius Institutes also aim to help students break down barriers and limitations often placed on individuals with disabilities.  One of this year’s honorees, Jerrad Solberg of St. Cloud State University, spoke of achieving his dream of traveling to China through his Confucius Institute, despite being born with cerebral palsy.

Changing lives is at the core of people-to-people exchanges

Dr. Chihombori-Quao, Ambassador for the African Union to the United States, said of her own experiences coming to America through people-to-people exchanges,  “Through their exchanges, America has raised a young girl from being a teenager, to being a medical doctor, to being a mother, to being a wife, to being an Ambassador representing 55 African countries. This is what people-to-people can do.”