By Lauren Henrickson
The University of Kentucky Confucius Institute brings Chinese cultural showcases to the schools and communities of the Commonwealth, but the UKCI team did a special weeklong trip to eastern Kentucky in December 2015 as part of a proposal by the Kentucky Department of Education.
During its visit, the UKCI team of six specialists worked with more than 900 K-12 students, teaching classes and presenting varied performances, including acts of martial arts, Chinese painting, folk music using the Chinese instruments of erhu and guzheng, paper cutting and calligraphy.
“From a young age, these students are given access to Chinese culture that they may have never had,” said Huajing Maske, director of the UKCI and executive director of the Office of China Initiatives. “Most importantly, these experiences will open up their minds.”
Aside from performances, the UKCI also offers classes for the students to participate and learn the different aspects of Chinese culture. Some schools reported that their highest attendance rates were during the UKCI’s showcases and classes.
“I didn’t realize that the students rarely have a chance to learn about different cultures,” said Lina Yu, community outreach coordinator for the UKCI. “It seemed like anything we taught made the students more interested and excited.”
Although these showcases are meant to expand and add to the cultural knowledge of the schools, the UKCI staff also gains beneficial experiences working with diverse students of all ages.
Cultural events such as these help to strengthen UKCI’s mission to advance the understanding of China and UK’s strategic plan to increase community engagement in the Commonwealth.