The topic of the February U.S.-China Business Connections (UCBC) monthly meeting was “China Resources and Services at the University of Minnesota.” Presenting were Ms. Joan Brzezinski, acting director of the new Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota (CIUMN), and Dr. Yongwei Zhang, director of the China Center. Brzezinski and Zhang each spoke about the services their departments offer to the community. The topic of the February U.S.-China Business Connections (UCBC) monthly meeting was “China Resources and Services at the University of Minnesota.” Presenting were Ms. Joan Brzezinski, acting director of the new Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota (CIUMN), and Dr. Yongwei Zhang, director of the China Center. Brzezinski and Zhang each spoke about the services their departments offer to the community.
Brzezinski introduced CIUMN and its mission to UCBC members. CIUMN is a joint partnership between the University and the Chinese Language Council International also commonly known as Hanban. There are approximately 250 Confucius Institutes worldwide, 50 of which are in the United States. CIUMN supports the University’s outreach mission by offering non-credit Chinese language programs for adults and children, cultural activities like kung fu demonstrations and shadow puppetry workshops, and custom-designed programs for businesses in Chinese language and culture.
Businesses have a particularly strong understanding of the economic, national security, trade, and technological reasons to study Chinese. Drawing on this, Brzezinski shared how the state of Minnesota is preparing students and the future workforce for a global business environment. In the past six years, the statewide enrollment in Chinese language in Minnesota public schools has grown 164 percent. CIUMN is also working with Minnesota state agencies and the University to better support professional development of Chinese language teachers and Chinese language programs in school districts as interest in Chinese language continues to grow.
More information about CIUMN programming can be found at www.confucius.umn.edu.
Zhang presented the services available through the China Center. Many UCBC members are familiar with the China Center because of its long history—this year marks the Center’s 30th Anniversary. There are some new initiatives underway that will make this year particularly significant. One of the most exciting initiatives is to increase the China Center’s presence in China. This has been a goal of the China Center for several years and it is close to being realized. A location convenient for conducting business has been identified and work is underway to establish a staffed office. This will be a valuable resource for supporting University faculty, staff, and alumni as well as Minnesota businesses for their work in China. In addition to new initiatives, the China Center will continue its work within the Minnesota business community to help facilitate connections with Chinese businesses.
The China Center also provides scholarship opportunities for University students wishing to study in China, recruits top Chinese undergraduate students to study at the University of Minnesota, conducts leadership training for Chinese business executives and academic leaders, hosts educational and cultural events, arranges meetings for visiting Chinese guests, and serves as a resource on China issues for government agencies and the private sector.
More information about the China Center can be found at www.chinacenter.umn.edu.