First CCCC Confucius Classroom instructor says goodbye
Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant (center) and Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive ... (more)
Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive (left) admires a brocade woven tapestry presented to her by Central Carolina ... (more)
Central Carolina Community College Confucius Classroom instructor Shuya Che speaks during a farewell ... (more)
Dr. Shuya Che (left), Central Carolina Community College Confucius Classroom instructor for the past ... (more)
Guanglin Dai (left), NCSU Confucius Institute program manager, and Anna Lamm (right), Institute deputy ... (more)
Central Carolina Community College Confucius Classroom instructor Shuya Che (left) receives a hug ... (more)
SANFORD - It was a beautiful day in late summer 2009 when Dr. Shuya Che, associate professor of Chinese linguistics and literature at Nanjing University, China, arrived in Sanford.
It would be her home for the next two years as she served as the first visiting professor for Central Carolina Community College's new Confucius Classroom.
"I remember how blue the sky was, how beautiful the environment," Che said of her arrival. "I thought, 'I'm going to like it here.'"
Almost two years later, Che is preparing to return to China. She said she was right in her first impressions: the environment is beautiful and she has enjoyed her time here very much. These years have been filled with learning and teaching experiences, both academic and social, for her, her students, and those who have come to know her.
Monday, July 18, the college hosted a farewell reception for Che at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.
"Two years ago, who would have thought that Sanford would be home to a Confucius Classroom," CCCC President Bud Marchant said to the gathering of Che's co-workers, students, local officials and community members. "Who would have thought that a Chinese university professor would come and share her knowledge of China with us. We say 'thank you' to Shuya, the Confucius Institute at North Carolina State University, and the Republic of China for making it possible. We look forward to continuing this good work."
Che said she will take home many wonderful memories.
"The most impressive thing I have learned here is that most Americans have warmer hearts than I heard of before I came," she said. "Most of you like to volunteer to help others, such as with manual labor, for example, to rebuild houses for the people who lost them because of the [April 16] tornado."
She added that she feels the most important thing she leaves behind is the friendship developed with colleagues. On the professional side, she said she really enjoyed teaching about China, the people, language and cultures, and dispelling misconceptions.
Marchant suggested the idea for establishing a Confucius Institute at the college when he became president in 2008. In 2009, it was decided that a Confucius Classroom would be a better fit and CCCC partnered with NCSU's Confucius Institute to establish a Confucius Classroom at the Lee County Campus, the first at a community college in the nation.
The Institute is based on a partnership among the university; China's National Office of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language; and Nanjing University. Through the Institute, the college has not only been able to have the Classroom but also host touring performing groups from China.
"The benefits of the cultural exchange through our Confucius Classroom are felt not only in the classroom but also with the performances that have come," said Lisa Chapman, CCCC vice president of Academic Affairs. "In today's global economy, it is a tremendous asset for our students to have this cultural exchange. The generosity and participation of the community has been greatly appreciated by our Chinese guests and our partners at N.C. State."
Che has been the instructor since CCCC's Confucius Classroom was launched. She said the variety of students she taught surprised her: a total of about 50, ages 17-80, most of whom were also employed. In China, most college students are ages 18-22, don't work, and depend on their parents for support.
At the reception, Jon Matthews, CCCC dean of University Transfer, Health Science, and Developmental Studies, presented Che with a Jerry Miller drawing of some of the college's buildings. Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive presented her with a letter on behalf of the community, thanking her, among other things, for "opening our eyes and minds to China" and making the "inaugural Confucius Classroom at CCCC a tremendous success."
Che surprised Marchant and Olive by presenting to them brocade yun art, a traditional weaving art in Nanjing. Only about 2.4 inches can be completed in a day. The one presented to Marchant was a colorful stylized dragon, while the one given to Olive was a brilliant bouquet of peonies. Marchant described the art as "phenomenal."
While in America, Che stayed with Matt Garrett, CCCC past president, and his wife, Becky. She learned about everyday American life and got insights into the dynamics of American families.
"I thought American families were not as close as Chinese, but the friends I have here - their family relationships are very close," she said.
The Garretts said they enjoyed hosting Che.
"Having Shuya live in our home for the past two years has been a unique experience," the Garretts said. "She has given us a glimpse into Chinese life and culture and has represented her country well. We will always regard Shuya and her family as friends."
Che's husband, Professor Xiangyang Cui, and their daughter, Yixiao Cui, flew over from Nanjing recently for the family to do some sightseeing before they return home. They are now spending a few weeks traveling around the United States, including visiting a few universities for Yixiao to see. They will then return to Sanford before departing on Aug. 22 for Nanjing from Raleigh International Airport.
At the reception, Che admitted to being "very homesick," having been separated from her family by an ocean.
"Now, however, there will be an ocean between my friends here and me," she said. "I will miss you all very much. I hope to see you someday in the future in China or in the United States."
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