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Making friends and influencing German people

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

16:12, July 31, 2012

For Hu Chunchun, 40, director of the Confucius Institute in Hanover, Germany, life at the institute is more interesting than his teaching career.

"I used to live at my ease as an university teacher. But my current job is so interesting and challenging, because I have to communicate with locals every day," Hu, associate professor from the German Institute, Tongji University, says.

In 2007, Tongji University in Shanghai and China Center in Hanover co-established the Confucius Institute in Hanover, which now has six teachers and volunteers.

The China Center in Hanover, which was founded in 1997 with the support of the German and Chinese governments, is a registered association to promote Chinese language and culture.

"Many students are office workers, rather than university students. Our major task is to provide Chinese language courses and cultural activities for those who are already interested in China," says Hu, who pursued his PhD in the philosophy and humanities department at the Free University of Berlin, from 1998 to 2003.

He only planned to stay one year at first, but changed his mind quickly after.

"I've made various friends here due to my work, including those from governmental departments and universities. They are very humorous" he says.

He says they often cooperate with local associations and institutions, because the institute doesn't have a regular activity place.

To organize an activity, he says, there are a lot of things one has to do, such as order a room about four months ahead and send many e-mails to lecturers to negotiate details.

The institute not only offers Chinese teaching for two universities and one college in Hanover, but also cooperated with the local government to provide three-day experience classes of the Chinese language for middle school students.

In 2009, the institute started the annual Summer Camp in China for German Middle School Students, to invite more than 100 German youths to spend two weeks in China, visiting tourism spots and schools, and learning about Chinese culture.

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