MURFREESBORO — MTSU will welcome elementary and middle school children Friday, July 10, from Hangzhou, China, for a five-day visit, marking the fourth year of an education and cultural exchange program organized by the university.
The 30-plus Chinese children, accompanied by parents, teachers and administrators, have a busy first full day planned for Saturday, July 11 — a visit to the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring that afternoon and a formal welcoming ceremony at the Student Union Building that evening.
They will be paired throughout the visit with Rutherford County students who visited Hangzhou in July 2014, a trip that also was facilitated by MTSU’s Confucius Institute. The Confucius Institute works to develop cultural and educational ties between China and the United States.
The visit will be the fourth of the reciprocal exchanges between MTSU and the Dongcheng Education Group of Hangzhou Normal University. Rutherford students visited China in 2012 and 2014, and Dongcheng students first came to the Murfreesboro campus in 2013.
“The university is proud of the continuation of this valuable educational and cultural exchange,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “It is a bridge that allows students and educators from both countries to learn from each other.”
The delegation will tour Overall Creek Elementary School, view science projects by Scales Elementary School students on display in the lobby of MTSU’s Science Building and learn about MTSU’s partnerships with universities in China.
McPhee said what makes this exchange unique is the opportunity for teachers and administrators from both counties to collaborate and share ideas.
“This interaction creates opportunities that extend far beyond the visit,” he said.
Chinese students also will visit the homes of local students, tour a farm and participate in educational workshops. They will travel to east Tennessee, where the delegation will visit The Lost Sea attraction, part of the Craighead Caverns near Sweetwater.
The Confucius Institute, named for the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, is sponsored by China’s Education Ministry to promote Chinese language, history and culture through tours, exchanges and university partnerships. There are more than 440 institutes in 120 countries.
MTSU joined with Hangzhou Normal to open its institute in 2010.
Under the leadership of Director Guanping Zheng and Associate Director Yiping Cui, MTSU’s institute has helped teach Chinese language and culture to more than 2,000 students in seven Tennessee counties. It also offers long-distance language training via satellite TV and the Internet.
MTSU and Hangzhou Normal recently extended their partnership for an additional five years.
MTSU also announced plans in March to build a Chinese Music and Cultural Center, which will be funded from a $1 million grant from Hanban, the headquarters operation of the Confucius Institutes.