The year 2011: Wuhan and Duisburg

The close cooperation of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr with Duisburg’s twin city Wuhan was apparent from many activities in 2011. The Confucius Institute organized a poster exhibition at the offices of the Duisburg City Library, which presented the people of Duisburg a closer view of their twin city. The exhibition showed differences and especially similarities between China and Germany, Wuhan and Duisburg. Thus, Wuhan as Duisburg, has the largest inland port in the country and in both cities there are not only industrial areas but also beautiful recreational oases and green areas. Also presented were the city's development and life in the central Chinese metropolis and the efforts of Wuhan to protect the environment. Already existing partnerships, such as school partnerships and cooperation between the Duisburg City Library and the Children's Book Library Wuhan, were also presented.

A lively exchange between Wuhan and Duisburg's Confucius Institute are proven by several visits. For example, Prof. Dr. Thomas Heberer and Dr. Anja Senz accepted the invitations of Wuhan University in 2011. In return several delegations of senior representatives of the Hubei Province, the provincial capital Wuhan and the Wuhan University visited the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr and won a lasting impression of the work routine at the Institute, the University of Duisburg-Essen and the city of Duisburg.

Introduction to Chinese Language – Practice makes perfect!

Children usually have a high perception of learning a language and many have enthusiasm for the Chinese language. The Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr regularly offers language courses for children and pupils of different age groups since summer 2011. In addition to the language courses the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr organizes colorful children's and youth program, for example workshops about Chinese cultural techniques or a children’s cinema in cooperation with Film Forum Duisburg.

To bring the Chinese language, the country and its culture closer to children and youngsters, the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr works together with many schools.  Overall, the Chinese language is growing in popularity as a survey published in summer 2011 by the German Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs shows. In North Rhine-Westphalia currently 1,700 children and youngsters learn Chinese. The positive feedback from children, parents and teachers so far encourages the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr to continue along the path. Information about the children's and youth program are available through the Institute secretariat or on the website of the Institute.

21 October 2011 Chinese authors – Yu Jian visits Duisburg

During a visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair and a subsequent reading tour through Germany, organized by Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr, the famous Chinese poet Yu Jian visited the city of Duisburg in 21 October 2011. At a reading held at the Duisburg cubus kunsthalle he recited his poems in the original Chinese while Marc Hermann, translator of the poems volume "File 0", read Yu Jian’s poems in German.

Yu Jian's poems are characterized by remarkable wit and irony. This makes them easily to understand and close to everyday life and reality. In the poem "File 0", the peak of his career so far, Yu Jian documents the life story of an anonymous individual to the most trivial detail. Yu Jian unmasks the current bureaucratic control instruments in China, while also pointing out the inability of the state apparatus to detect individual realities.

Following the reading, the visitors had the opportunity to put forward questions to Yu Jian his literary work, such as to his motivations to write. Yu Jian reported that among other things, the Cultural Revolution had moved him to write poems. The burning of numerous influential books, which he saw at the age of twelve years with bewilderment, was defining moment. Driven by the idea to oppose the destruction, he began writing. Until 1979 it was not possible to publish his poems, and so his poetry initially circulated in handwritten disclosure. This changed in the 1980s and Yu Jian’s poems are now published by the most prestigious Chinese publishers. In 2002 he was awarded the Literature Prize and since then he is seen as one of today's leading contemporary poets of China.

10 September 2011 Introduction to Chinese Language - Learn Chinese? Don’t worry!

The Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr cooperates with the Community College of Duisburg on a regular basis to organize a "Chinese Information Day" for anyone interested. The most recent “Chinese Information Day” was on 10 September 2011. About 50 participants came. In a Chinese introduction course the participants learned the basic structure of the Chinese language. They also had the opportunity to test whether or how to learn Chinese. Later, the Kung-Fu World Champion Kai Hoffmann presented spectacular fighting techniques. Additionally an exhibition on China's current social, economic and environmental challenges provided an insight into the living and working conditions in China today.

22 June 2011 Conversation with outstanding personalities: Dr. Banning Garrett

On 22 June 2011 Dr. Banning Garrett, the director of the Asia program at the Atlantic Council, visited the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr to exchange views on Sino-American relations, the shifts in power between the USA and China as well as the importance of Europe. Dr. Garrett who previously was the Director of the Initiative for US-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate at the Center for US-China Relations of the Asia Society, was consultant of the U.S. Defense Department and other government institutions for 22 years.

He is also an excellent connoisseur of the strategic dialogue between China and the USA. In his speech, which was followed by a lively discussion, Dr. Garrett stressed out the need for close cooperation between China and the USA regarding future global challenges such as climate change and shortage of food, water and resources, manifold consequences of demographic changes and the development of the world economy as a whole.

24 May 2011 Chinese authors – Fang Fang visits Duisburg

China has many successful writers, but very few of them are known in Germany. The author Fang Fang’s visit in Duisburg should change this. On 24 May 2011 over 90 interested visitors came to Germany's first reading of a Chinese author which was organized by the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr in cooperation with the Duisburg City Library.

Fang Fang is considered as an important representative of naturalism in China, and is one of the most famous writers of her generation. Her language is powerful and alive; her style is down to earth and vivid. Her work precisely describe the everyday life of ordinary people in Wuhan in a captivating way, which at the same time has a detached view, focussing on the essentials of human destiny. She became famous in 1987 through the novel “Landscape”. In this novel she describes the life of an extended family in Wuhan. While two children take their destiny in their own hands, the other seven children just try to cope with the impositions of life.

She presented her novels "Landscape" and "Ants on a Knife Edge" that are currently being translated into German for the first time by the Confucius Institute. Excerpts from the novels were presented by Fang Fang in Chinese and by Dr. Anja Senz in German. This was followed by a lively discussion between author and audience on the background of the novels and Duisburg’s twin town Wuhan. The event was accompanied by a musical interlude by Petra Kessler on the bamboo flute.

In addition to the author’s reading the Confucius Institute organized two talks with Fang Fang that provided interested people the opportunity to engage with the author and her work. The focus of these discussions was the writer’s life and women's literature in China. The Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr successfully managed bridging the gap between the oldest German-Chinese twin city partnership by inviting the Wuhan descendant author Fang Fang. The partnership of the cities of Duisburg and Wuhan will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2012.

02 May 2011 Conversations with outstanding personalities: Prof. Dr. Yu Keping

On 2 May 2011 the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr welcomed Prof. Dr. Yu Keping for a lecture on current und future political developments in China. Prof. Dr. Yu Keping, a political science professor at the prestigious Beijing University and director of the Chinese Centre for Comparative Politics and Economics became a Chinese and international sensation ​​some years ago with his essay "Democracy is a good thing". He is a mediator between science and politics in China and has established two awards so far: one award for local environmental policy and one more for good governance. He has been involved for many years with the University of Duisburg-Essen. In 2008 the university awarded him an honorary doctorate for his outstanding scientific work in comparative politics, globalization and civil society. At the end of 2011, Yu Keping was also chosen by the well-known Foreign Policy magazine as one of the 100 most influential intellectuals of 2011. In the well-attended lecture at the Confucius Institute, he presented his ideas about the political system of China, and discussed with the audience Chinese perspectives on democracy.