Attendees included representatives from various local universities, Chinese officials and members of the Confucius Institute at UWC. Staff and students had the opportunity to learn some of the ancient Chinese disciplines. These included meditative movements practised as a system of exercises in the form of Tai Chi, Chinese martial arts referred to as Wushu and Baduanjin, which is one of the forms of traditional Chinese Qigong exercises. This form of exercise has a history of more than 1000 years.
Participants could also enjoy an opportunity to learn watercolour painting from a Chinese expert, and topics of Chinese Medicine and African Traditional Medicine were discussed.
The event, organised by UWC’s International Relations Office, stems from an agreement signed in 2018. The Confucius Institute, here at UWC also offers health and wellness courses such as Chinese home cooking, Tai Chi and tea appreciation.
READ MORE ABOUT THE CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE
The UWC Director of International Relations, Mr Umesh Bawa, said the main objectives of the Confucius Institute are to strengthen educational cooperation between China and South Africa, support and promote the development of Chinese language education, Chinese medicine studies, cultural exchange and academic cooperation among the Universities in South Africa and China.
“Through the more than 500 Confucius Institutes and a thousand Confucius classrooms around the world, the Confucius Institute system is also a great conduit for Chinese instructors to live in other parts of the world and experience the various local cultures and social systems. This two-way communication and exchange have played a crucial role in building up camaraderie, mutual trust, and solidarity among peoples of the world.
“Chinese officials have also welcomed the launch of UWC’s Confucius Institute, saying it will enhance people-to-people exchanges between China and South Africa and strengthen China-Africa relations,” he said.
The Chinese government has been promoting the Chinese language, culture and tradition on the platform provided by Confucius institutes worldwide since 2004.
Dr Liren (Benjamin) Zeng, co-director at the Confucius Institute for Chinese Medicine at UWC, said: “We have a lot in common regarding traditional Chinese Medicine and traditional healing practices. We try to introduce traditional Chinese medicine to the local community in collaboration with the traditional Chinese Medicine department. We also work closely with the African Traditional Healer’s Association and deliver our services to the local communities.”
Dr Wagieda Cassim, who lectures in Chinese Medicine at UWC, said she is looking forward to the traditional Chinese medicine student exchange programme and internships the Confucius Institute will offer.
“I’m thrilled, because as a Chinese medicine practitioner, you want people to know about your medicine, how effective and cost-effective it is and how easy it is to administer. Our people need complementary medicine, specifically in the form of Chinese Medicine.”
Mr Yong Qin from the Consul for Cultural Affairs, noted: “Not even mountains and oceans can separate people with shared goals and visions. I hope we can work together to build a bridge between our two countries for us to understand each other better,” he said.
For more images of the grand opening of the Confucius Institute (all by Ruvan Boshoff/UWC Media), see the gallery below: