Dr. Shi, Chinese Program Receive Grant for “Confucius Classroom” at CRLS

Vera Targoff, Contributing Writer

On October 9th, the Fitzgerald Theatre was filled with students of all grades and classes who came together to celebrate Chinese teacher Dr. Shi’s receiving of the Confucius Classroom grant from the Confucius Institute at UMass Boston. Students in the audience witnessed the presentation of the grant and a celebratory performance by an arts troupe from the Zhejiang University of China.

The Confucius Classroom is a grant given to schools across the world. According to the website of the Confucius Institute, its purpose is “to help students better understand China by teaching language and culture at schools.”

Baifeng Sun, the director of the Confucius Institute at UMass Boston, kicked off the ceremony by presenting a plaque for the Confucius Classroom to Dr. Shi. Sun then gave a short speech emphasizing the importance of learning other languages and experiencing other cultures.

“We are proud of the students who are interested in the culture, who are learning Chinese or learning any other cultures,” Sun said. “It means a lot not only to you, but to anyone in the world.”

Sun also briefly explained the meaning of the grant, saying, “With this establishment of the Confucius Classroom at this school, the UMass Boston Confucius Institute will make sure we do our best to support you, to ensure our collaboration, and to make your Chinese program better and better.”

According to Dr. Shi, the Confucius Classroom grant will provide support and funding for the high school’s rapidly growing Chinese program.

The Cambridge Public Schools’ Chinese program was established in the early 1990s at the King School and was brought to the high school in the early 2000s as an official class. The program became complete in 2008 with the establishment of the AP Chinese course.

“Over the past ten years, with the support of the teachers, guidance counselors, and the school officials, we have had a very good, rapid, and healthy development,” Dr. Shi told the Register Forum.

Dr. Shi applied for the Confucius Classroom grant last year and learned that he had been approved for it in September of this year. Dr. Shi says the main purpose of getting the grant for CRLS was to promote Chinese education in a more rigorous way.

Dr. Shi explained that the Confucius Institute is affiliated with the Chinese government. “Every year, they give us some money and funding from the Chinese government. [The Chinese government] wants to push or promote Chinese language being taught outside of China,” Dr. Shi continued. “The Confucius Institute tries to promote the secondary Chinese language teaching in secondary schools, like public high schools,” he added.

When Dr. Shi was told he had received the grant, the Confucius Institute offered to present the grant to CRLS in a ceremony. Shi accepted, and the Institute arranged for the Zhejiang University Wenqin Art Troupe from China to come and perform after the presentation of the grant.

Junior Alexander Sadock was in the audience for the performance. Sadock said that it was fascinating to see a group perform at CRLS that had come all the way from China.

“It was great to see how engaged the students were when the [Zhejiang University Wenqin Art Troupe] was performing and to see how excited kids got,” Sadock said. “The cultures integrating inside of our school was powerful.”

Sadock doesn’t take Chinese, but he was still excited about the honor presented to Dr. Shi and the Chinese program at CRLS.

“I think the Chinese program is a small one at Rindge, but it seems to be growing rapidly,” Sadock said. “It’s exciting to see that we got recognition from the Confucius Institute. It makes me really proud that we have a Confucius Classroom that is one of nine in Massachusetts.”

This piece also appears in our October print edition