The Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine (CITCM), the first and largest of its kind in the world, celebrated its anniversary on Tuesday after a decade of painstaking efforts in promoting cultural exchanges between China and Britain.
At the celebration held at London South Bank University, pupils from Highgate Primary School sang the Manual of Youth by TFBoys, a popular boy band in China. Their standard Mandarin and excellent performance won loud applause from the audience.
Xu Yinong, director of the CITCM, told Xinhua that the institute has been working with local schools for 10 years and has established more than 70 long-standing partnerships.
One of the schools is Highgate Primary School, which has been working with CITCM since 2011 and was awarded Confucius Classroom status after four years of profound commitment to Mandarin teaching, said Xu. It opened in 2017 a spectacular Chinese classroom that promises to further enhance the Mandarin learning experience for students and teachers.
"We look forward to continuing our work with Highgate and celebrating a similar level of success with other schools in London," said the director.
Founded in 2007, the CITCM now has a total of 68 Hanban volunteers and 32 Hanban teachers. Hanban is the colloquial abbreviation for the Office of Chinese Language Council International, which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education and charged with cultivating knowledge and interest in the Chinese language and culture around the world.
"Initially, many partner schools only required clubs, cultural activities and roadshows. However, over the last two years, we have been engaged in enhancing the outcome of the teaching program by embedding Mandarin in the curriculum. As a result of our effort, a total of 42 schools have successfully embedded Mandarin in their curriculum," Xu said.
The CITCM also offers a series of carefully designed services including Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) courses, summer trips to China and scholarship programs. These initiatives have greatly enhanced the students' overall learning experience and academic development.
Yessica Lerma, a CITCM student, said she is grateful to the institute for heightening her academic performance by introducing the marvels of the Chinese language and culture.
"The knowledge gained through CITCM has given me the confidence to apply for and successfully obtain a highly prestigious job. I will be forever grateful for all the help and support in enhancing my university experience and personal academic development," she said.
The CITCM is the first Confucius Institute in the world to have a specialized focus on traditional Chinese medicine. It offers an integrated BSc and Master course in acupuncture, whose practical aspects of training can be conducted in the institute's own on-site clinics.
"Through the course, students can build a strong foundation in acupuncture's theory and application, gain extensive clinical experience and learn about the Chinese language and culture. The students will leave with a thorough understanding of Western biomedical science and research methodologies to be reflective, professional practitioners", said Xu.
Professor Paul Ivey, pro-vice-chancellor of the London South Bank University, also spoke highly of the CITCM and considers it indispensable to the university in the teaching of Chinese medicine and Mandarin, among others.
"Ten years ago, some very brave and creative people made a decision to create Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine here at London South Bank University. Small steps, very small steps. But over the years, through mutual trust and hard work, we are able to create what is now probably the largest Confucius Institute in the world," Ivey said.
"We have over 100 teachers here, and they are fantastic. They are very very strong. They are fantastic young people who really have an international outlook on life. They are teaching Mandarin to some 50,000 school children in London," said the professor.