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Building a bridge across cultures

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

16:27, July 31, 2012

Carsten Krause, 40, the director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Hamburg in Germany, is more than happy to renew his five-year contract with the institute.

"Promoting cultural communication is an interesting job," says Krause in fluent Chinese. "The Confucius Institute is more like my kid, a 5-year-old who has started kindergarten but doesn't need breastfeeding anymore," he adds.

Krause graduated from the Department of Chinese Language and Culture, at the University of Hamburg, with a PhD, in 2001.

In 2004, the Chinese government established Confucius Institutes to promote Chinese language and culture abroad. These institutes are nonprofit organizations attached to foreign academic institutions such as universities.

In April 2012, there were 129 Confucius Institutes and 104 Confucius Classrooms in Europe.

In 2007, the University of Hamburg and Fudan University from Shanghai co-established the Confucius Institute. Krause spent about six months laying the foundations for the institute and became the director. Currently, it has 15 teachers and three volunteers.

As one of the most important Chinese training centers in the city, the center has three semesters a year, attracting about 120-150 students per semester.

About half of them are office workers, including those who travel to China for work. Nearly one fourth are middle school and university students. The center conducts four 90-minute classes per week, and each class costs $8 per student.

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