The United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, are trading partners with an increasingly interdependent relationship and together play a significant role in fostering peace and prosperity throughout the world. Former Secretary of State John Kerry described the relationship between the U.S and China as “the most consequential in the world today, period, and it will do much to determine the shape of the 21st century.”
Confucius Institutes are university partnerships that help foster cooperation and mutual understanding between the two countries. The USM Confucius Institute (USMCI) was formed through a partnership between USM and Dongbei University of Finance and Economics (DUFE) with the support of Confucius Institute Headquarters to promote the study of Chinese language and culture.
The Confucius Institute serves to expand the world language options, culture exchange activities, and study abroad opportunities for USM students. These programs help USM students broaden their horizons and be more prepared for today’s global job market upon graduation. The partnership also opens the door for other forms of cooperation that the two universities may choose to enter into such as common research, faculty and student exchanges, and joint programs and degrees.
The Institute’s personnel include a host director and program coordinator from USM, and a Chinese director and Chinese teachers from DUFE. The Institute also supports local Chinese teachers in bringing Chinese language education to the community. The oversight for the USMCI is provided by a board made up of representatives from the two universities.
The Confucius Institute at USM strives to serve the growing demand within the university and the community for greater knowledge and understanding of Chinese language, culture, and history. Toward these goals, the Institute provides language and culture education, student trips to China, study abroad scholarships at DUFE, Chinese proficiency testing, Chinese teacher training, and China-related consulting. Through outreach programs with area K-12 school districts, the Institute works to help USM reach its goals in recruitment, community engagement and expanded offerings for students. The USMCI also partners with the Chinese Friendship Association of Maine (CAFAM) and other local organizations to promote Chinese cultural programs for students and the larger community.