MU partnership brings Chinese culture to North Callaway schools

Hsiao-Mei Wiedmeyer, with the MU Confucius Institute program, talks to Auxvasse Elementary students about Chinese language during an after-school program. The Confucius Institute will provide edcuational cultural outreach programs for the North Callaway School District.

Hsiao-Mei Wiedmeyer, with the MU Confucius Institute program, talks to Auxvasse Elementary students about Chinese language during an after-school program. The Confucius Institute will provide edcuational cultural outreach programs for the North Callaway School District. Photo by Dean Asher.

Students in North Callaway School District will have a chance to learn from a culture many of them have never been exposed to before. The district signed a one-year deal Wednesday at Auxvasse Elementary with the University of Missouri’s branch of the Confucius Institute, an educational outreach program designed to promote Chinese language, culture and cultural exchange throughout the world. Program leaders and cultural delegates wasted no time, giving a presentation on the Asian nation to about 30 of the school’s middle schoolers.

MU’s Confucius Institute was founded in April last year, and lists among their missions “to bring Chinese language education to K-12 and university students in Columbia and Missouri” and to “enhance understanding of Chinese language and culture.” The Institute has worked with MU, Columbia businesses, groups in St. Louis and Kansas City and Governor Jay Nixon, but when North Callaway approached them to become involved with the district’s After School Program, they became the first public K-12 district in the state to work with them.

“Jannice Wright went to the National Endowment for the humanities and brought it to the after school program,” said Brian Jobe, the After School Program’s director. “We contacted the vice provost at MU, and the ball rolled from there and lead to here.”

Handy Williamson Jr., Vice Provost for International Programs at MU and director of their Confucius Institute, visited Auxvasse Elementary with Wen Ouyang, co-director of the Institute, and several cultural delegates, including Hsio-Mei Wiedmeyer of Columbia Friends of China. The group met with North Callaway officials, toured the school and signed a one-year agreement for the Confucius Institute to bring educational events and activities to North Callaway’s After School Program.

“Our society is so global, we hope that our rural students are able to get a better global perspective,” said Jobe.

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