Vice Minister Xu Lin of China, who oversees more than 400 Confucius Institutes around the world, will visit Tennessee on Monday to meet with Gov. Bill Haslam in Nashville, then tour the Middle Tennessee State University campus.
It will be Xu’s first visit to MTSU, which opened its Confucius Institute in April 2010 through a partnership with Hangzhou Normal University. She will come to Tennessee after a meeting this weekend at Western Kentucky University of Confucius Institute leaders from across the U.S.
Xu, who also serves as director-general of the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), oversees a worldwide network of institutes that offers Chinese language and teaching resources and services, provides cultural outreach and fosters educational partnerships. The institutes are affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education.
“We are deeply honored that Vice Minister Xu will be coming to Tennessee as part of her visit to the U.S.,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, who serves as a senior adviser to the Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing. “We look forward to welcoming her in Nashville, as well as on our campus.”
Xu, who has been chief executive of the Confucius Institutes since 2004, will begin her visit in Nashville with a tour the Capitol building, then will meet with Haslam and other state officials. She will then go to Murfreesboro to tour MTSU’s campus and visit the university’s Confucius Institute.
Under McPhee’s leadership, MTSU has strengthened its international outreach to China, as well as several other countries. Earlier this year, McPhee led a delegation to China, which included a visit to Confucius Institute Headquarters, and facilitated a cultural and educational agreement between Murfreesboro City Schools, Rutherford County Schools and a China education group.
State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, who helped arrange Xu’s visit with state officials and was part of the university’s delegation to China, said he hopes the event “will build an even stronger bridge between our two countries, which will benefit the students of Tennessee.”
Guanping Zheng, director of the Confucius Institute at MTSU, said Xu’s visit “was truly an honor” and thanked the institute’s headquarters for its “tremendous support.”