Classroom opening – Confucius Institute involved in project

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All things Chinese are to be celebrated at St Kevin’s College on Tuesday as part of a joint project between several organisations.
The school will open its Confucius Classroom with an event featuring aspects of Chinese culture that both pupils at the school and members of the public will be able to enjoy.
St Kevin’s College deputy principal Kerry Ryan said the project would expand on the already strong Chinese focus at the school.
“It’s a joint project with the Confucius Institute from Canterbury University. They’re sort of an arm of the Chinese Government which fosters Mandarin language access in New Zealand.”Peter Lee and Sandra Tonkin, of the Oamaru Chinese Association, had helped out, Mr Ryan said.
St Kevin’s had been teaching Mandarin for “several years”.
The classroom will be opened at 2pm. Guests will be led to the classroom by the sound of bagpipes, and that will be followed by a haka and speeches from Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, Chinese Consul General Jin Zhijan and others.
A statement from Minister of Education Hekia Parata will be read by head boy Max Stewart, before a blessing by the Rev Wayne Healey.
Mr Kircher and Mr Zhijan will unveil a plaque and Diane Vidallon will perform a song.
From 6.30pm, several activities will be open to the public, including kung fu, t’ai chi, a tea ceremony, Chinese writing and painting, paper-cutting, plate-painting, knot-making and lion-dancing.
Pupils from Weston School will perform, and the evening will finish with a Chinese supper.
Mr Lee congratulated St. Kevin’s College and the Confucius Institute for establishing an “open classroom for Chinese learning” in Oamaru. “The Chinese community embraces this project and will offer it every support. Already there many opportunities open to Oamaru residents with the capabilities and knowledge of the Chinese language. The Chinese language is the most difficult of languages to grasp so I challenge the people of Oamaru, of all ages, to take the opportunity to utilise all the facilities this classroom has to offer.”Mr Ryan said the project “brings diversity” to the school and allowed pupils to experience another culture.
Pupils who learn Mandarin and complete 30 hours of classes are eligible to go on a cultural trip to China that involves a visit to Wuhan University and tourist activities.
“We’ve gone to full classes. Mandarin used to be an option, so they all have a go now. We’ve got quite a few senior students that are doing Mandarin; most do that by correspondence.”In the past, learning Chinese at schools was “seen as something out of left field”, whereas today it was commonplace and widely encouraged, he said.

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