While the prevention and control of the COVID-19 outbreak in China has been positively extended as of March 2020, the pandemic has been spreading rapidly overseas.

Knowing that teachers at the Confucius Institute at Michigan State University (CI-MSU) are facing a serious shortage of materials for epidemic prevention, Jing Degang, secretary of the Party Committee and president of the Open University of China (OUC) wrote them a letter of support and made arrangements to send a batch of face masks in order to protect the health and safety of the overseas teachers who have been selected by the OUC and dispatched by Hanban (the headquarters of the Confucius Institute) to teach at CI-MSU. As of the date of this article, the materials have reached the teachers.

Letter of support from OUC president Jing Degang

Letter of thanks from CI-MSU

In his letter, Jing Degang expressed sincere thanks to and support for overseas teachers on behalf of the OUC as they continue their work on the front line of Chinese instruction for foreign speakers. He hopes that they will continue to support the normal operation of the teaching process while at the same time making sure to protect themselves well from the epidemic and reminded them to abide by the advice of the local schools and the Confucius institute. Upon receipt of the letter, the teachers felt deeply encouraged and moved by the OUC and wrote back in a thank you letter that they feel like the epidemic prevention packages from the OUC are full of care and affection and has strengthened their will to battle the virus. All of the faculty and staff of CI-MSU will pay close attention to the development of the epidemic and carry out epidemic prevention and control in a scientific and efficient way so as to ensure that CI-MSU can operate normally.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the OUC Faculty of International Languages and Cultures has maintained close contact with the teachers dispatched from China to work at CI-MSU. During the outbreak of epidemic in China a few months ago, the OUC has received a video from the CI-MSU, which cheered up staff and students at the OUC.

Teachers from CI-MSU cheered up OUC staff and students during the epidemic in China

CI-MSU is the first online Confucius Institute in the world, established by the OUC and MSU fourteen years ago under a cooperation agreement signed in 2006. As of today, CI-MSU has enrolled over 5,000 students, mainly junior and senior high school students from different US states aged 10-18 years. Some of the students are from Thailand and United Arab Emirates. CI-MSU has a total of nine Chinese teachers dispatched by Hanban, of which five were selected from the OUC headquarters and the OUC branches. CI-MSU has built a platform for communication between teachers in the US and China. A number of the OUC teachers have been able to expand their horizons and enhance their international literacy and standard through CI-MSU programme.

2020 is the final year of the OUC Construction Plan, the OUC Comprehensive Reform Plan, and the OUC 13th Five-Year Plan for Reform and Construction. The OUC will “optimise and improve international cooperation” and continue to conduct in-depth explorations of a new path for international cooperation for open universities and stimulate the implementation of international Chinese language education.

Written by Cui Jiaxing, photographed by Wu Yan, OUC