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The Confucius Institute of Alabama A&M University: a New International Initiative

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The Confucius Institute of Alabama A&M University:
a New International Initiative

          Alabama A&M University has formally established the Confucius Institute of Alabama A&M University (CIAAMU) recently. This represents the culmination of six years of hard work between Alabama A&M University and its Chinese partner institution, Nanjing Forestry University. From a program that provided for exchange research opportunities between the faculty and students of the two universities, it has evolved today into the Confucius Institute of AAMU.  


         Confucius Institutes collectively promote and teach Chinese culture and language around the world. CIs develop Chinese language courses, train teachers for teaching Chinese, and provide information about contemporary China. For economic purposes, this is extremely important since the CIs facilitate business operations between USA and China. Today the Chinese economy represents the second largest in the world; second only to the United States. China is also an important market for many large United States companies, given its one of the largest populations in the world. Further, there are many U.S. companies with a presence in China, such as AT&T, Dell, Apple, Ford, GM, Nike, Johnson and Johnson, Sam’s Club, Walmart etc.
         There is also a significant Chinese investment in the United States. Currently the Chinese investment in the U.S. exceeds $43 billion. Right here in Alabama, the investment exceeds $301 million. With the opening of the Golden Dragon Copper Tubing Plant in Wilcox County, and the 3D Printer Factory in Dothan, Alabama, Bloomberg calls Alabama “the new hub of Chinese manufacturing.” As the Alabama A&M University continues to prepare its students for the globally competitive world of the 21st Century, the Confucius Institute at Alabama A&M University will provide a platform for addressing our strategic goal of internationalizing the curricula to be responsive to current and emerging needs. There is a high probability that some graduates from AAMU will take positions with one of the U.S. companies in China, and the University wants to be sure that they are prepared. The Institute also addresses university’s service mission by providing programs and services to the larger community about Chinese language and culture. CIAAMU currently offers courses such as Introductory Chinese, Chinese Writing, and History and Culture of China to students and Huntsville communities. It is planning for more cultural, educational, and business related exchange programs in the near future.  
           With the establishment of CIAAMU, Alabama A&M University joins an elite group of universities worldwide in having a Confucius Institute. The first Confucius Institute opened in South Korea in 2004. Today, there are 475 Confucius Institutes in dozens of countries on six continents. Of the 4600 colleges and universities in the country, 107 have Confucius Institutes, with Alabama A&M being the 107th. The CIAAMU is one of four at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the nation, and one of three in Alabama.
The success of this initiative was contributed to by many parties in addition to the leaderships and staff at Alabama A&M University and Nanjing Forestry University, including the City of Huntsville, County Commission, Huntsville Chamber of Commerce, Huntsville Chinese Association, International Service Council of Alabama, Auburn University, the Confucius Institute Headquarters, and the Chinese Embassy in USA.
          A grand opening ceremony is planned for April 16, 2015 at the Von Braun Center in Downtown Huntsville, hosted by Alabama A&M University and Nanjing Forestry University. The event will be a spectacular display of Chinese artistry and pageantry, as we publicly welcome our new Institute.