Choruses of “Ni Hao’s” and “Hello’s” could be heard throughout the room during the Grand Opening Ceremony of Penn State’s two newest additions Tuesday: a partnership with the Confucius Institute and the creation of the Dalian Joint Center for Energy Research.
The university’s collaboration with the Dalian University of Technology is part of the Confucius Institute partnering program, which partners universities in China with other universities around the world in order to increase the involvement of students and faculty in China, said Eric Hayot, co-director of the Confucius Institute at Penn State and director of the Asian Studies Program.
The partnership is meant to encourage greater research collaboration and establish a student exchange program, in addition to offering more opportunities for Penn State students to become exposed to Chinese culture.
Hayot, who spearheaded the effort, said he hopes it creates opportunities for students who don’t necessarily know they have an interest in the study and research of China.
The universities are also partnering in order to form a Joint Center for Energy Research to be housed at Penn State, which will work collaboratively with the Dalian University of Technology to research energy and the environment.
The ceremony kicked off with a proclamation by State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham, who introduced the institute and the research center and declared Tuesday “Confucius Institute Day” in State College.
After Goreham left the podium, Penn State President Graham Spanier spoke about the importance of fostering positive international relationships, especially in the case of the Dalian University of Technology.
“This is the type of relationship that fosters understanding and will benefit our nations and the world,” Spanier said.
Dalian University of Technology President Jin-Ping Ou also spoke, and Penn State’s Vice President for Research Henry Foley expressed his happiness over the collaboration as well.
“The center will benefit both universities by bringing them closer together,” Foley said. “It will promote a greater understanding of each other.”
Joint Center for Energy Research Director Chunshan Song said he is very excited about the partnership and it is important to engage in global research and education to view the world from a more international perspective.
Song said the United States and China are the largest energy consumers in the world, and the new center will work to find new energy strategies to decrease carbon emissions in energy usage.
Vice Provost for Global Programs Michael Adewumi worked on the partnership effort and said the exchange is “tremendous.”
“When students graduate today, they will work with people from around the world,” Adewumi said. “Understanding the world is absolutely crucial.”