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The Ateneo Chinese Studies Program

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Welcome to this new column in ChinaBusiness-Philippines magazine. Starting January 2008, the Faculty of Chinese Studies at the Ateneo de Manila University will take turns using this space to write about China-related issues.

Ateneo has much to offer in the area of Chinese Studies. It has the most advanced Chinese Studies program in the country, built up over the last twenty years. In 1987, Chinese Studies began modestly at the Ateneo, offering Mandarin Chinese classes as an option for college students who had to fulfill a foreign language requirement. The new office also handled the university’s exchange program with Xiamen University.

Over the years, the office expanded its course offerings beyond the Mandarin courses. It took under its wing all the China-related courses being taught in the university, and looked for teachers who were qualified to offer new courses on China in the higher education level. The result is that today, not only are basic to advanced Mandarin and Hokkien taught in the Ateneo. We also have faculty members teaching Chinese Economy, Government and Politics, Art and Society, Films, Literature, and Painting. There are also courses on Sino-Japan Relations, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Doing Business in China, and the Chinese in the Philippines.

Just this year, Ateneo consolidated its efforts in Chinese Studies and began offering a new college degree, Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Studies, with tracks in Business, Humanities, and Social Sciences. On the graduate level, we are working with the Ateneo’s Education Department to offer a Master of Arts in Education, Major in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

Nine Dragon ScreenAteneo Chinese Studies is not limited to teaching. Through the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, it aims to support research on China and increase the university’s linkages with Chinese universities. Through other activities like this column, it aims to share its knowledge about China with a wider audience.

The Ateneo has also partnered with Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU) in Guangzhou, China, to establish the first Confucius Institute in the Philippines. The institute is China’s cultural arm (similar to organizations like Instituto Cervantes and Alliance Francaise) in promoting a country’s language and culture. Through the institute, Mandarin and other classes are offered to the general public in Quezon City, Makati, and San Juan. Two professors from SYSU are presently teaching at the institute and at ADMU.

We have chosen “The Phoenix and The Dragon” as the name of this column. These two mythical creatures symbolized the empress and the emperor in imperial China because they were considered the most intelligent and most majestic creatures in Chinese mythology.

The phoenix is usually represented in flight, symbolizing its freedom from the forces of gravity and, therefore, the freedom of human reason and imagination. It appears only during times of peace and prosperity, when reason prevails in society.

The dragon has a positive image in Asia, unlike in the West. It represents the strength of goodness as it occupies land, sea, and air, bringing water and, thus, life and fertility. It is the image used to capture the passing of the seasons with its cycle of hibernation and awakening.

Today, China herself is often referred to as a dragon — a sleeping dragon that will shake the world, an emerging dragon that will rise to prominence on the world stage. For us in the Ateneo, the phoenix is an apt symbol to represent the intellectual resources that must be harnessed in the Philippines in order to engage the dragon that is China. Only with such an engagement can the Philippines benefit from the myriad opportunities that are presented by a powerful China in this, the Asian century.

In this column, in the coming year 2008, you can look forward to encountering the likes of Clark Alejandrino (蔡瀚霖), Elizabeth Tan (陈莹莹), Benito Lim (林智聪), Aurora Roxas-Lim (林晓 彤), Teresita Ang-See (洪玉华), Rosa Concepcion Ladrido (康妮), Shitao Zhang(张世涛), and Ellen H. Palanca (黄淑琇).

print ed: 12/07

 

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