Confucius lecture series

The Confucius Institute at University of Wisconsin-Platteville held two events last week, marking the beginning of a lecture series on Chinese culture. The institute began the series last Wednesday with a lecture on ancient and modern Chinese agriculture and how that agriculture has influenced Chinese society over hundreds of years. The following Thursday, Dr. Mei Reeder, the director of the Institute, held a paper-cutting workshop, teaching those in attendance proper paper-cutting techniques while explaining the cultural significance of the art.

In the coming weeks, the lectures given will cover everything from modern fashions to the differences in lifestyles for American and Chinese students. The ultimate goal of the Lecture Series is to teach UW-Platteville students about the vast differences in cultural traits found on the other side of the world.

During an interview, Reeder talked about why they chose to do the series, and why it is important to teach students about different cultures.

“Every year we have new people, freshmen, transfers, etc., and we owe them the opportunity to learn about China. We owe them the opportunity to learn about something they may have never known,” Reeder said.

The series leads into and continues beyond the ten-year anniversary of the Confucius Institute’s founding at UW-Platteville, as well as its 18th anniversary in partnership with the South-Central University for Nationalities.

Maggie Deng, a Chinese Instructor at UW-Platteville and member of the Confucius Institute, spoke briefly on the changes she has seen in the institute over the years.

“Students and community members are a lot more involved, and [the Institute] is a lot more impactful on the community,”  Deng said.

Eileen Wu, Chinese Instructor and Outreach Specialist at the Confucius Institute, talked about her thoughts on the institute’s lectures and other outreach programs.

“It is a great way to learn about other cultures, and by hosting these events, maybe students can find something that sparks their interest, and opens up new doors for them,” Wu said.

At the end of her interview, Reeder talked about how much she enjoyed her work at the Confucius Institute, with students, staff and members of the community coming to her to explore their interests in international learning.

“It may be cliché, but I really love interacting with students and staff members, whether it’s one-on-one or in a lecture setting. I really enjoy the interactions, and seeing people interested in the culture, and it’s really rewarding to help them find what they’re looking for, whether it’s as simple as finding them information or as complex as preparing them for international study,” Reeder said.

The Confucius Institute will continue the Lecture Series into mid-May, along with several other workshops and activities open to students, faculty and community members.