Northern Ireland’s only Confucius Institute is to celebrate Northern Ireland’s burgeoning relationship with China with a week of cultural events.
Chinese Culture Week will get underway on April 13 with a ceremony in Jordanstown marking the official launch of Northern Ireland’s only Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster.
An array of events will also take place in the University’s four campuses in Belfast, Jordanstown, Coleraine and Magee from April 14 and also in Lisburn, Carrickfergus, Stormont and Belfast City Hall.
Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Professor PÃ³l Ã“ Dochartaigh revealed: “Last September, we were delighted to announce that the University of Ulster had been chosen to establish a Confucius Institute in conjunction with Zhejiang University of Media and Communications in south east China.
“The Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster (CIUU) is a hugely significant development – providing a resource that our education system, businesses, government, arts and cultural organisations can tap into as they forge relationships with counterparts in China.
“It is part of a network of 370 Confucius Institutes at leading universities across the world – 20 of which are in the UK and two in the Republic of Ireland.
“The spectacular growth and the sheer scale of the Chinese economy means Northern Ireland cannot afford to sit still and let other regions develop relationships in China. We must get out there and play our part. That meansequipping ourselves with the skills and knowledge of China linguistically and culturally.
“Chinese Culture Week will officially launch the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster but we hope of the array of events will give people a taste of the country’s rich culture and help them develop an appetite for more knowledge about China.”
The festival will feature lectures, musical recitals, Chinese culinary arts and gymnastics displays at a number of venues on and off campus.
This will be followed on April 16 with a Chinese music recital in Jordanstown and a gymnastics event in the Salto Gymnastics Centre in Lisburn, which has been chosen as a training base for China’s artistic gymnasts for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
There will be three lectures aimed at business audiences wishing to export to China at Magee, Carrickfergus and Belfast City Hall on April 18 and 19. The guest speakers will be UniversityCollege Dublin academic Professor Cathal Brugha, who has written about the Irish experience of doing business in China, and Homson Shaw, Associate Dean of the International College of Zhejiang University of Media and Communications and Co-Director of CIUU.
There will also be music recitals and culinary events on the Belfast and Magee campuses on April 17, at Parliament Buildings on April 18 and the Coleraine campus on April 19.
The week of events will close with an invited dinner on the Coleraine campus on April 20 where CIUU’s headquarters will be based.
Professor Ã“ Dochartaigh said: “The University has been hugely encouraged by the strong welcome the Confucius Institute has received in Northern Ireland from the educational community, central and local government, from business, arts and culture organisations.
“We are also heartened by the eagerness of the Chinese Government to make CIUU a success. We have developed a fruitfulpartnership with Zhejiang University of Media and Communication and Hubei Normal University.
“As a university committed to ensuring its graduates are fully equipped to help Northern Ireland makes it mark economically around the world, we are ready to do everything we can throughCIUU to ensure our students and Northern Ireland’s business community have the linguistic and cultural knowledge and skills to engage China effectively.
“CIUU will provide Northern Ireland with a great opportunity not just to educate our young people through Confucius Classrooms in primary and secondary level schools but to develop effective trade and cultural links for the benefit of our region and China.”