May 19, 2013 marked a pivotal moment for the students, as they departed Beijing and headed to Baoding, which is approximately 2 hours south of Beijing. Here, the orchestra performed at two different venues in Baoding. In December 2012, Dr. Ransdell met at Hebei University for a number of reasons, but most importantly to view the auditorium in which the students would be performing. What was found was a nice exterior building, and an interior that was unfinished. After discussions, Hebei University vowed to have the new facility operational by the May 20th concert, and they delivered in high fashion. This beautiful auditorium was completed, and absolutely immaculate. Thus, on May 20th, the Symphony at WKU took stage, and was the first group to perform in this newly finished auditorium. Over 850 students, faculty, and members from the community enjoyed the performance.
Earlier that afternoon, the WKU delegation led by Dr. David Lee (dean of Potter College of Arts & Letters) Dr. Andrew McMichael (assistant dean of Potter College of Arts & Letters), Dr. Wei-Ping Pan (assistant to the President, director of Confucius Institute and Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology), Mr. Raza Tiwana (assistant director of International Admissions), Mr. Ryan Hall (director of ASLI program), Ms. Betty Yu (associate director of educational outreach Confucius Institute), and Mr. Terrill Martin (associate director for business development – Confucius Institute) met to discuss the enhancement of the 2 + 2 program with Hebei University that is presently only for business students. Dr. David Lee (dean of Potter College of Arts & Letters) discussed the possibility of adding English as another major option, which would increase the enrollment of Hebei University students under this program on the campus of WKU, as early as Spring 2014. In addition, Hebei University shared cultural exchange performances with the Symphony at WKU students. Amongst the performances was an introduction to traditional Chinese instruments, traditional Chinese dance, and martial arts.
As the trip to Baoding was winding down, a trip to Zhenhua Martial Arts School was next on the agenda for the students. Official martial arts masters performed various demonstrations from breaking cylinder blocks over their torsos, heads, bending spears with their necks, and capped the evening festivities with an authentic lion dance performance. Next, the final performance of the tour was commenced, which ended on the campus of North China Electric Power University’s Baoding campus. Dean David Lee welcomed the packed crowd of approximately 1,000 students, faculty and community members to performance by the Symphony at WKU. Again, in typical fashion, the night was capped off with “ENCORE” chant, and again, the orchestra complied with the request from the capacity crowd.
For some, the trip was over with the finale at NCEPU Baoding, as 21 individuals returned to the states on May 22, 2013, while the other 35 individuals went to Beijing airport to set flight for a three nights, four day excursion to beautiful Xi’an (Shaanxi Province), the home of the Terracotta Warriors. This leg of the trip included a tour of the Terracotta Warrior Museum, Pottery workshop, Muslim Quarters, visit to watch Dr. Ching-Yi Lin teach a class at the Xi’an Conservatory of Music, and a first class farewell dinner with both the students and alumni groups.
Third, on May 16, 2013, Dr. and Mrs. Ransdell took a small break to spend the day with the Symphony at WKU students on their ascent to the Great Wall. Midday before the concert, on Friday, May 17, 2013, President Ransdell, Dr. Wei-Ping Pan, and BLCU’s Vice President, Mr. Zhao Min and delegation met to finalize the 1 + 2 agreement between WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and BLCU’s teacher trainees. This was also the sight for the Symphony at WKU’s second performance of the trip. Again, at the end of the program, a big “ENCORE” chant broke out, and again the Symphony at WKU complied with the request. Well, this concludes the first part of the trip, with the following two performances to commence in Baoding China at Hebei University and North China Electric Power University. Please stay tuned for more information.
Second, earlier in the day of Wednesday, May 15, 2013, more things were at play. At 9:30am, the WKU delegation led by President Randell, Dr. Wei-Ping Pan (Assistant to the President and director of the Confucius Institute), Dr. David Lee (dean of Potter College), Ms. Betty Yu (associate director of Educational Outreach for the Confucius Institute), Mr. Terrill Martin (associate director of Business Development for the Confucius Institute), and Mr. Bryan Lemon (assistant university photographer). This was to discuss and move forward with support from Hanban/Confucius Institute to discuss the approval of 2 newly approved Confucius Classrooms, final approval of the 1 + 2 program with WKU’s College of Education and Beijing Language and Culture University, approval of support for the Western iMedia project, and approval of support for three positions to continue the growth of the Chinese language programs with the Department of Modern Languages, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, and the Confucius Institute at WKU. These positions will allow an anchor for these departments for growth in the Chinese language and culture. Later that evening at 3:30, the 3rd annual Confucius Institute at WKU Executive Board Meeting took place. While President Liu Jizhen of NCEPU was not in attendance, Mr. Zhigong Wu (Party Secretary) took his place, and never missed a beat. This meeting lead to further developments and support for a newly developed Chinese Business Management, “Experience Global Business Practices,” through a partnership between the Gordon Ford College of Business’, Executive in Residence, Mr. George Rasmussen, and Mr. Terrill Martin of the Confucius Institute at WKU. NECPU will be the official sponsor for this study abroad initiative, in which the site visits will take place between May 27, 2013 – June 6, 2013, in which four Kentucky based companies are participating (DD Williamson (Shanghai) Ltd., Source International, Houghton International, and Zoeller Taiwan Co. Ltd.), which have facilitates located in Shanghai, Xiamen, China, and one in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
What does the Symphony at WKU, WKU Alumni Association, Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, North China Electric Power University, Beijing Language and Culture University, Hebei University, Confucius Institute at WKU, Western iMedia, Gordon Ford College of Business, Chinese Flagship, Potter College, and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences have in common? Well, the answer is not simple, but one word that is at the helm of it all. “CHINA!!!” The year 2013 marked a poignant step in the direction of WKU’s mission of “A Leading American Institution with International Reach.” At the center of it all is the Confucius Institute at WKU. Just three years after the formation of the Confucius Institute at WKU, it has proven to be a pivotal piece in the international scene as it relates to China. The answer is not simple, but this correspondence will be divided into three different stories that will bring everything full circle.
First, it was just one short year ago, President Ransdell put the plan in motion to have the Symphony at WKU to perform in China. While his intention was for more than just one reason, the fundamental purpose is to increase international participation in the Symphony at WKU program led by Dr. Bill Scott. Thus, plans began to construct a cohesive learning experience for the students in the orchestra, in addition, to performing on the biggest stage in many of these young individuals’ life. Through partnerships with Chinese universities connected with the Confucius Institute at WKU, initially three venues were chosen for the symphony to perform with a fourth addition added this past February. In addition, a simultaneous plan was taking place to take approximately 20 – 25 WKU alumni/donors to China. Thus, on May 12, a total of 78 individuals took flight to China. The opening performance commenced on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 on the campus of North China Electric Power University, and started in high fashion with the playing of the Chinese National Anthem, followed by one of the most beloved performances in the Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto. The Symphony at WKU performed in front of a crowd of 1,200 students, faculty, and delegates from Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, who begged for an encore at the conclusion, in which the Symphony at WKU quickly answered.
This year, the Confucius Institute has been involved with the planning and logistics of two simultaneous trips. First, the President’s Office, Potter College, the Music Department, and the Confucius Institute will jointly send 54 Symphony at WKU students to Beijing, and Baoding China. While they are there, they will perform at North China Electric Power University (Beijing), Beijing Language and Culture University (Beijing), Hebei University (Baoding), and North China Electric Power University (Baoding).
In addition, the Alumni Association and the Confucius Institute, will send 22 individuals to China, in conjunction with the Symphony at WKU. These individuals will visit various sites in Beijing, Baoding, Shanghai, and Xi’an for two weeks.
Please follow this blog for the most updated information regarding the trips.