Partnership Promotes U.S.-China Relations

Emory’s Halle Institute for Global Learning collaborated with the Confucius Institute in Atlanta to host the Emory-Nanjing Visiting Scholars Program.

The Confucius Institute is a program under the University’s Chinese Studies department.

During this week-long program, which began on Nov. 5, Emory faculty worked with administrators at Nanjing University in China to hold several events both on and off campus.

In March 2008, the Confucius Institute in Atlanta was founded as an educational partnership between Nanjing University, Emory University and Atlanta Public Schools.

This new institute in Atlanta was sponsored by the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Hanban, according to Rong Cai, associate professor of Chinese Studies at Emory University and director of the Confucius Institute in Atlanta.

The Emory-Nanjing Visiting Scholars Program, launched in 2009, sponsors conferences, scholarship opportunities, research and academic exchanges between faculty and administrators from Emory and Nanjing University, according to the website for the Halle Institute.

“Since the signing, we have hosted twenty-four faculty members from Nanjing University and 40 students from Nanjing University,” said Cai. “The partnership between Emory and Nanjing University through the Confucius Institute has been the very effective platform for promoting scholarly exchanges between the two universities.”

Cai added that approximately forty Emory faculty members have visited Nanjing University in order to participate in joint conferences held on its campus during the past three years. Through these conferences, the Visiting Scholars Program aims to facilitate collaboration between faculty at the two different universities. The program also hopes to help create understanding of cultural differences between students at the universities.

“We are delighted to host our colleagues from China, especially now at the end of an intense campaign that reached new heights in negativity,” said Holli Semetko, Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Halle Institute for Global Learning and Office of International Affairs.

In addition, she conveyed her optimism and enthusiasm in regards to strengthening Emory’s collaboration with Nanjing University in the future. She also hoped that this collaboration could help to improve relations between the United States and China, in general.

One of the events that Emory hosted during this exchange was the Jiangsu Cup Chinese Speech Contest, which took place on Nov. 7. During this contest, Emory students as well as those from three other universities — including the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University and Spelman College — competed with speeches that showcased their levels of proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. Competitors participated in different categories, depending on their skill level — such as Intermediate to Heritage Speakers of Chinese.

College senior Kevin Kang and College junior David Wu competed to win Gold Awards, which entitles them to full scholarships while pursuing master’s degrees at Nanjing University.

“I participated in the contest to challenge my limits in learning Chinese and to pursue my dream to study East Asian history at the graduate level,” Kang said. “I am grateful for the generosity of Nanjing University and the immense support I received from Chinese instructors at Emory, notably Dr. Hong Li and Dr. Wan Li-Ho.”

Other events that occurred as part of this program included a conference titled “Cultural Politics in the Visual” that Emory and Nanjing University sponsored in conjunction with the Georgia Institute of Technology.

This conference, which is now in its fourth year, focused on the impact of visual media on cultural and political institutions in the United States and China.

In addition, the Visiting Scholars Program enabled Emory faculty as well as other local educators to travel to Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai as part of a cultural and educational exchange this past October.

— By Abigail Holst