Confucius Institute holds first Language Buddy Event

Confucius Institute hosts many events to promote Chinese culture on Mason campus (photo by John Irwin).
Confucius Institute hosts many events to promote Chinese culture on Mason campus (photo by John Irwin).

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, the Confucius Institute at Mason kicked off its first Language Buddy event to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The Confucius Institute often sponsors a variety of events on campus that highlight different aspects of Chinese culture, but this is the first that focuses on student interaction and fellowship.

All students can take this opportunity to make new friends while practicing their language skills, whether they are learning English or Chinese. Students who came helped each other with homework, played games and socialized as they learned more about the event and the Confucius Institute.

The event was originally conceived two years ago.

“We had a new teacher come in from China, and she came up with this idea,” explained Dr. Lihong Wang, the Resident Director for the Confucius Institute. “She had a lot of connections with the Chinese students, and they’d stop by. Then is occurred to us: Why didn’t we just do a matchmaker and bring the American and Chinese students together?”

The goal, Dr. Wang said, was to provide an opportunity where students could improve their language skills and share their cultural experiences with each other.

“We know some students have no Chinese background, so we liked to provide this kind of introduction,” said Dr. Wang. But the learning process goes both ways.

“It’s nice here, but very different from China,” shared Poppy Deng, a Chinese transfer student currently studying English through the English Language Institute. “Everything is different, like the food, the activities, the people—the whole thing. So you have to get used to everything.”

Her language buddy for the day, Mason sophomore Sarah Williams, shared the same sentiment. Through her Chinese studies, Williams has realized her passion for the culture. She hopes to either study abroad or teach English in China one day, and the Language Buddy event provided a chance to network.

“I think they try to give you somebody that you can build a relationship with,” said Williams.

Confucius Institute considers their mission fulfilled if they bring people together. The Institute’s partnership with Mason first started in 2009, and it has since offered workshops, culture and language classes, outreach activities, and much more.

Beyond on campus activities, Confucius Institute also offers proficiency testing, teacher training, and scholarship opportunities. Other events, such as cultural workshops, will take place in the following week.

The Language Buddy event is only the first step towards more to come.

Meetings are bi-weekly until Dec. 4 on Wednesday evenings from 3 to 5 p.m. Students interested can find the Confucius Institute’s office in East Building, Room 129. For additional information, check

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