The University of Southern Maine is hosting the state’s first Confucius Institute, a language and cultural nonprofit set up by the Chinese government’s Ministry of Education.

The USM location will be one of 90 Confucius Institutes in the United States. A ceremony marking the opening of the institute will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday in 10 Bailey Hall on the USM Gorham campus.

“We’re very proud and honored to be the first recipient of a Confucius Institute in Maine,” USM President Theodora Kalikow said in a statement. “The institute will serve as a wonderful educational resource to the state and builds upon USM’s service to its community. It places USM among an elite group of universities in the world with these institutes.”

Three faculty members from China will be teaching Chinese language at USM, helping teachers to become proficient in Mandarin and earn credits toward K-12 World Language Teacher Certification or graduate work.

The faculty also will teach basic Chinese language and culture to K-12 students in Portland, Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Gorham and Topsham, according to Confucius Institute Director Joseph McDonnell, the dean of the College of Management and Human Service at USM.

Hanban, an arm of the Chinese Ministry of Education, created the Confucius Institute program in 2004; by the end of August 2011, there were 353 Confucius Institutes established in 104 countries and regions worldwide.

The faculty, from Dongbei University in Dalian, China, will also be teaching language classes to adults through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USM.

 

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com