Madam Lin Xu

April 29, 2015

Madam Xu LinMadam Lin Xu, Chief Executive and Director General of the worldwide network of Confucius Institutes, visited Kennesaw State University recently to discuss new opportunities for international cooperation.

The visit was a watershed moment for Kennesaw State’s own Confucius Institute. It is the first time the global head of the Confucius Institute network has visited since the Kennesaw chapter’s creation in 2008.

“Madame Xu is a leader who is well respected by governments, higher education institutions, businesses, and educators around this world,” says Ken Jin, director of Kennesaw State’s Confucius Institute. “Her visit to CIKSU is a great honor to all of us. She is the very first national leader from China to visit KSU. It was a wonderful opportunity for CIKSU to showcase our success.”

During her April 17th visit, Madam Xu toured the campus, met with local CI officials and with several students participating in Chinese language programs. Promoting study of Chinese language and culture around the world is a primary goal of Confucius Institutes.

Madam Xu held a meeting with Ken Jin and Dr. Lance Askildson, the University’s Chief International Officer. They discussed how Kennesaw State University could work more closely with the Confucius Institute’s Chinese headquarters to develop new programs to accomplish both organizations’ goals.

Xu said that she is eager to expand beyond Chinese language and cultural education into promoting more direct involvement in the communities where CIs are housed.

“We want to pay more attention to training local teachers and to increasing exchange programs with different countries,” she said. “We need to increase our capabilities to provide more services to the local communities.”

With private companies around the world clamoring to do business in China, Xu believes that building relationships directly with communities will help create a bridge between China and its international partners.

Jin and Askildson explained that increased cooperation with Kennesaw State University would help achieve that goal. Atlanta is home to one of the largest concentrations of global businesses in the United States. Closer ties with Kennesaw State could mean closer ties with those businesses.
They also expressed interest in Kennesaw’s Confucius Institute playing a larger role in the global organization. The Kennesaw State CI is currently partnering with Georgia Public Broadcasting to produce a documentary on Chinese tea culture. Once completed, it will air on public television stations around the United States. Jin and Askildson would like to leverage this partnership with GPB to create more cultural television programming for Confucius Institutes across the country.

“We would like to create products that could educate large segments of the U.S. population about Chinese culture,” Askildson said.

Madam Xu was enthusiastic about Kennesaw State’s desire to enhance the Confucius Institute’s scope in Kennesaw and the U.S., saying that it aligned with her own goals. She compared the Confucius Institute to a girl who has been living solely on milk for the last ten years and is now looking for more nourishment.

“She cannot live only on milk,” she said. “She needs food. She must devote herself to society.”

Following the meeting, Xu attended a lunch reception with University President Daniel Papp, which featured several authentic Chinese dishes prepared by Kennesaw State’s award-winning culinary program.

After her visit, Madam Xu sent a letter to Dr. Papp expressing interest in many of the ideas she heard while at Kennesaw State.

“In her letter to Dr. Papp, she said that our best practices will be introduced to Confucius Institutes in North America and Europe,” Jin says.

The Confucius Institute was originally formed in 2004, with Madam Xu serving as executive director since the organization’s founding. The program is overseen by the Office of Chinese Language Council International, and currently includes nearly 500 locations around the world.

Kennesaw State Confucius Institute Homepage

Worldwide Confucius Institute Homepage

-Patrick Harbin

Images of Madam Xu Lin's Visit to Kennesaw State University