A total of 144 students studying at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Confucius Institute graduated at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies (OCACPS) at the Laucala campus on Thursday.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Language and Education (FALE), Dr Akanisi Kedrayate welcomed guests including the Chinese Ambassador to Fiji His Excellency Zhang Ping and USP’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra.
She confirmed that a total of 211 students were graduating this semester – 144 from the Laucala campus, 41 from Lautoka and 26 from Emalus Campus in Vanuatu.
“At the moment we have the Confucius Institute at USP Laucala, Confucius classrooms in Vanuatu and in Cook Islands and our facilities at the Lautoka Campus will soon be upgraded to a classroom,” she explained.
Dr Kedrayate further said there is a possibility of establishing Chinese language teaching points in Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga and the Solomon Islands.
In his keynote address, Chinese Ambassador H.E Zhang Ping said he was pleased to note that more than 200 people are attending Chinese courses.
He said the Confucius Institute at USP is the first one to be established in the South Pacific region, and for this, he is grateful to Professor Chandra and USP.
“Over the years, the Confucius Institute has achieved lots of progress in promoting the Chinese language and culture. The teachers from China have made great efforts in trying to make the language more educational,” he said.
H.E Zhang Ping said the fact that more classrooms will be established by Confucius Institute in the region shows the increasing interest by Pacific Island counties to learn the Chinese language and culture.
“This also shows the increasingly close ties between China and the Pacific. China is a good friend and partner for cooperation with Fiji as well as other Pacific Island countries. We have seen that over the past years our relationship has achieved lots of progress in almost every aspect, and we believe that in future, this relationship will develop even further,” he added.
He added that language is the basis for communication and culture is the window for mutual understanding and the bridge for friendship.
“Learning and understanding Chinese language and culture and also the local language will lead to greater understanding, cooperation and friendship between our two countries,” he said.
Professor Chandra congratulated the large number of graduating students who have worked hard to succeed.
“Chinese is not an easy language and those who have completed it have shown persistence. I hope that many of you will go on to study at higher levels and become interested in the Chinese culture,” he said.
Professor Chandra also thanked the hardworking efforts of the teachers at the Confucius Institute saying that when they did well, it reflected on the University.
“It further means that our expectations when the Confucius Institute was first established have all been met and exceeded. In 2011, we would not have anticipated such a rapid growth in enrolment, nor seen the possibility of expanding the teaching of Chinese language and culture outside the Laucala campus,” he added.
“China is a global player and it has an interest in the Pacific. We see the interaction increasing and in all of these there are significant benefits both to Pacific Island countries and to China. USP is also keen to deepen this relationship with China,” he said.