Chancellor Block speaks at a basketball banquet; Chancellor Block, in academic attire, speaks at Commencement; Chancellor Block gestures with his hands

If You’re Planning for Posterity, Build Friendships

National Center for Performing

Beijing, China

December 12, 2011


Politburo Standing Committee Member Li. State Councilor Liu.  Minister Yuan.  Madam Xu.  Hanban leaders and staff and friends and supporters of Hanban and the Confucius Institutes from around the world: Good evening.

I want to begin my remarks tonight by applauding Hanban on the stated purpose for your Confucius Institute initiative, which is: “To enhance the understanding of the Chinese language and culture by people from different countries and regions, to deepen friendly relationships with other nations, to promote multiculturalism and to construct a harmonious world.”

With your theme of “The Next 10 Years” in mind, I’d like to share this well-known Chinese proverb with you because I think it speaks eloquently to our common purpose: “If you are planning for 10 years, plant trees; if you are planning for 100 years, educate people.”

Now, in the spirit of friendship – and with the fervent hope that you will be both kind and forgiving – I will attempt to recite this proverb in Mandarin:

shí nián shù mù  
十    年    树   木
bǎi nián shù rén
 百    年    树  人

How did I do?

I hope my pronunciation was at least vaguely comprehensible, and will not cause a diplomatic incident!

There’s something I’d like to point out about that wonderful proverb. 

Those two things -- planting trees and educating people -- are not mutually exclusive. 
We can, in fact, do both.

And so I am very pleased to let you know that earlier today I presented a beautiful tree to Madam Xu as a gift from UCLA to Hanban. Let’s call it a “Friendship Tree.” 

It’s a California Redwood, a species famous for being the tallest and largest living organism on earth.  This tree can soar skyward to well over 300 feet (or 100 meters), and some of these majestic trees alive today are over 2,000 years old and some could even date back to the time of Confucius.    

It is my hope that this tree, as it flourishes in the coming years in the Hanban garden, will symbolize the strong and steady growth of our cooperation and friendship over the next 10 years … and well beyond into the future. 

This California Redwood – red being the color of celebration here in China – also celebrates the growing array of cooperative educational programs we sponsor together,  programs that provide for the education of more and more people -- on UCLA’s campus, in our surrounding communities, and here in China.

And as UCLA prepares to celebrate our centennial in 2019 – marking our first one hundred years of educating people in the greater Los Angeles area – we are also looking out over the horizon toward the next 100 years. 

So I’m here today to share a few thoughts – and hopefully plant a few seeds – about the activities and potential of the Confucius Institute at UCLA.

Over the past five years, the UCLA Confucius Institute has become an important part of our outreach to the various communities and organizations in greater Los Angeles and Southern California. 

As you may know, Southern California is home to the largest Chinese-speaking population in the United States, with Chinese immigrants playing a vital role in California’s history and heritage and our current dynamism.

UCLA’s Confucius Institute is firmly rooted in the fertile soil of our area’s deep and abiding connections to China.

For starters, UCLA has a well-established Center for Chinese Studies as the platform for research, scholarly exchange and public outreach.  The Center is home to more than 30 China experts specializing in a wide range of academic fields including archeology, history, literature, music, sociology, anthropology, political science, and public health.  And many more UCLA faculty work in China and train graduate students.

Our Confucius Institute partners include other universities — including some of our sister universities in California, the University of Southern California, and Loyola Marymount University — as well as local school districts and cultural organizations.

We are working with UCLA’s Center for East-West Medicine on programs to promote the integration of Chinese and Western medicines, with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on a Chinese film festival, with Los Angeles Laker basketball star Kobe Bryant on after-school programs that teach Mandarin and Chinese martial arts, and with the UCLA Chinese language department on new types of language training classes that address professional needs.

During 2011 we established three Confucius Classrooms.  We have sent over 200 high school summer students to China, and we have escorted several delegations of principals and educators to China.  

Our Mandarin Teacher Training program places novice teachers from China and the US in Los Angeles K-12 classrooms where they can work alongside seasoned educators to develop their teaching skills and knowledge of the California classroom.

And, in July, UCLA once again hosted the Hanban-College Board Guest Teacher Training Program, with more than 120 Mandarin teachers from China.

Our institute also supports Chinese-language education in K-12 public schools, including teacher certification.  Earlier this year, we launched a new a program to bring graduate students from our partner school, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, to Los Angeles.

In April 2011, I was extremely pleased to meet with president Zhang in Shanghai, and then to host Vice President Xu and the Wind Ensemble on the UCLA campus in October when we opened our Confucius Classrooms.    

In 2013, UCLA will debut a new program that allows students to earn a master’s degree in “Teaching Asian Languages” and a California Teaching Credential.   This unique program will prepare Mandarin teachers to teach anywhere along the K-16 spectrum.  

As the next 10 years unfold, several of your exciting initiatives will blossom and bear fruit.  For instance, we applaud Hanban’s plan to establish 100 Model Confucius Institutes and 200 Model Classrooms and we would like to participate in these programs. 

With regard to your International Chinese Language Textbook Project, we would be delighted to work with you to develop materials that meet California’s K-12 standards and address the needs of our large Spanish-speaking population. 

All of these partnerships and initiatives at UCLA have helped raise awareness for the Confucius Institute and have created a strong network of relationships throughout California.

As we plan for the future -- for the next 10 years -- and for the next 100 years … I think we might also want to add one more line to the Chinese proverb recited earlier:

If you’re planning for posterity, build friendships.

That’s what Hanban and the Confucius Institute are all about.  That’s what this remarkable sixth anniversary conference is all about.  And that’s what all of us individually and collectively should be all about as we plant the seeds for a more harmonious world.

Thank you all for your attention this evening. And happy sixth anniversary!

Thank you, everyone. 

xiè xiè dà jiā
谢   谢  大  家