Home / News / News and Events / Official Opening of the New Center Confucius Model Institute at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”

   
Official Opening of the New Center Confucius Model Institute at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”

The new structure of the Institute has specialized premises: classrooms, study rooms, language laboratories, a library with a reading room, an exhibition hall, a multifunctional conference hall, and a theater hall. The large scale reconstruction work has been carried out with the assistance of Sofia University and the Beijing University for Foreign Languages.

The opening ceremony of the new center of Confucius Institute was attended by Mr. Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, Professor Todor Tanev, Minister of Education and Science, Ms Vanya Kastreva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Associate Professor Dr. Roumyana Kolarova, secretary for education, science and civil society at the Presidency of the Republic of Bulgaria, Associate Professor Dr. Yanaki Stoilov, deputy chairman of the National Assembly.

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Official guests from the Chinese party were Mrs Syu Lin, chief executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and Director General of the Council for the International Dissemination of the Chinese Language at the Ministry of Education of China (Hanban), His Excellency Wei Dzinhua, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to this country, Han Jun, Chairperson of the University Council at Beijing University for foreign Languages, Nin Dzimin, Director of the Institute for International Education at Shandong University, the rectors of five Chinese high schools: Beijing University for Foreign Languages, the Chinese University of Mass Media and Communications, the North-western Pedagogical University, the University of Hong Kong, and the University of Shanghai of International Trade. Among those present were also directors of Confucius Centers in Europe, as well as lecturers and students.

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The event took place at the multifunctional conference hall at Confucius Institute and was opened by Professor Alexander Fedotov, honorary director of Confucius Institute and Director of the Center for Eastern Languages and Cultures at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. He welcomed the guests and expressed his pleasure to be host to that international forum. Professor Fedotov made mention of the fact that there are about 500 Confucius Institutes in the world at present, yet only 14 of them are Model Confucius Institutes and underlined that Confucius Institute in Sofia is one of the chosen 14.

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On behalf of the collegium of Sofia University, Professor Dr. Ivan Ilchev, Rector of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, expressed his pleasure that the University was host to two emblematic events: the opening of the bigger Confucius Institute in Sofia and the holding of the general conference of Confucius Institutes in Europe.

“More than half a century ago Sofia University was the first high school in this country where the teaching of the Chinese language and culture took place and where Chinese studies were first instituted.” With the years thousands of young Bulgarians had the opportunity not only to get in touch but also to master the basics of a language that is spoken by more than 12 % of the world’s population and became familiar with the ancient Chinese culture and its invaluable contribution to world history. About a decade ago, with the active assistance of Hanban, Confucius Institute, the first in the region, was established at Sofia University.

Professor Ilchev acknowledged the activities of the Bulgarian directors of the Institute: Professor Alexander Alexiev, Dr. Antonia Tsankova and Mrs Axinia Koleva, and their respective Chinese counterparts: Professor Tien, Professor Gou, and Professor Gu, thanks to whom the Institute has scored a success. The faculty of the Institute has established contacts with specialists from different walks of life in this country, and came up constantly with new initiatives in order to turn it into one of the best units of Sofia University and a vitally important link between Bulgarian society, the University, and China. A genuine proof of all that is the recognition of the Institute from the Chinese side as one of the top 14 model institutes in the world. In the words of Professor Ilchev, additional evidence of the high appraisal of the activities of Confucius Institute and Sofia University was the institutionalization of the University as a European coordination center of the 16-plus-1 initiative in the domain of high academic education and science, and its Rector was elected President of the Association of Chinese and European Universities within the framework of the initiative.

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In his welcoming speech Professor Ilchev said that over the years Sofia University and Confucius Institute had been working in close cooperation with the Director General of Hanban, Mrs Syu Lin, and due to her support the Chinese party had decided to invest in the establishment of a big and up-to-date Confucius Institute in Sofia, which is the biggest one in Europe at present.

“The volume of the overall investment of almost 2.5 million levs, the additional means that have been invested by Sofia University would have been pointless had the PM of the Republic of Bulgaria not resolved the long standing issue between the University and the Union of Bulgarian Artists four years before, and, subsequently, the Government ceded the property to the University, the very building we are in at the moment. Our partners from Beijing University for Foreign Languages also played an important role because, at the moment, they are the only place in China where BA courses in Bulgarian language and culture are being taught… This has been the third big investment of Sofia University for the past couple of years, together with the European Project for the modernization of the University Library and the complete reconstruction of Lecture Theater 272”.

Professor Ilchev thanked the architects and the engineers who had worked on the project of reconstructing the building, Assistant Professor Benova, deputy rector of real estate property at Sofia University, and Dipl. Engineer Yuroukova, chief of the business department at Sofia University, and also to all who worked for the renovation of the building of Confucius Institute.

After the welcome address the Rector handed over to Mrs Syu Lin the charter granting the use of Confucius Institute at Sofia University.

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Mrs Syu Lin congratulated the audience on the opening of the new center and expressed her gratitude to the Bulgarian government, the Embassy of China in Bulgaria, Sofia University, and everybody who is interested in and lends their support to the development of Confucius Institutes. She also extended her gratitude to the present representatives of Confucius Institutes from 22 European countries.

“China and Bulgaria are great countries with ancient history. Although they are thousands of miles away from each other, the friendly relations between the two peoples have a long history,” Mrs Syu Lin said. She mentioned that an important part of the Silk Road passed through Bulgaria and artifacts of those times are kept at the History Museum in Sofia. This is an incontestable proof of the links between the two peoples going back to antiquity.

She also drew attention to the fact that with the establishment of New China Bulgaria was the second country in the world that established diplomatic relations with China. During that period of more than 60 years of diplomatic relations there has been continual growth of mutual political trust, deepening of the cooperation in different domains, and nowadays the bilateral relations show excellent perspectives.

Mrs Syu Lin added that the main principle of a Confucius Institute is to facilitate the study of the Chinese language and culture, to cooperate with foreign universities and to provide high quality services in the sphere of education and the presentation of Chinese culture. The Sofia Confucius Institute conducts academic and cultural activities of high level, and just to single out one of them, the Silk Road Conference, that convened sinologists from more than ten countries. She also pointed out that last year Confucius Institute invited the Nobel Prizewinner Professor Mo Yan who was conferred the Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa of Sofia University. Mrs Syu Lin mentioned also that during the visit of the Bulgarian President to China, the two countries agreed to continue providing support to the development of Confucius Institute in Sofia. She also expressed her confidence that the Sofia Confucius Institute will optimize its activities and contribute to the development of the relations between Bulgaria and China.

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His Excellency Wei Dzunhua, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to this country, openly expressed his joy that he was present at the opening of the building of the Model Confucius Institute in Sofia and of the solemn ceremony of the opening of the general conference of Confucius Institutes in Europe. On behalf of the Embassy he thanked the honorary guests from China, the teaching faculty and the friends who are actively involved in the development of Confucius Institute.

“During the period of the establishment and early development Confucius Institute has turned into a constitutive element of the cultural and social exchange between China and the world. Not only did Confucius Institute provide the students in this country with the opportunity to study Chinese and get familiar with Chinese culture but it also showed an overall picture of the country,” the Ambassador pointed out.

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Associate Professor Roumyana Kolarova, Secretary for education, science and civil society at the Presidency of the Republic of Bulgaria, read the congratulatory letter on behalf of President Rosen Plevneliev which made mention of the fact that the event came as a result of the successful partnership between Sofia University and Beijing University for Foreign Languages. The letter reads that Confucius Institute has consolidated its position as an educational and cultural center with a considerable contribution to the teaching of the Chinese language, broadening the knowledge of Chinese culture and traditions, and the development of the cooperation and the friendly relations between Bulgaria and China. President Plevneliev writes that he was deeply convinced that the modern facilities at the new center form a promising platform for the realization of various important educational, scientific and cultural projects.

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In his welcoming speech the PM Mr. Boyko Borisov pointed out that Confucius Institute in Sofia is a splendidly structured institute with many halls, language laboratories, tea rooms, which all provide excellent opportunities for getting to know Chinese culture and promote the business and intercultural relations between the two peoples. He showed openly his admiration of the modern functional library at the Institute and strongly recommended it to everyone to visit it. The Prime Minister added that the access to the building is easy and it is user friendly to handicapped people. The PM also expressed his appreciation of the fact that Confucius Institute in Sofia is the biggest in Europe.

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After the official opening of the Model Confucius Institute Center the annual conference of Confucius Institutes in Europe commenced. It is the first time that Confucius Institute at Sofia University and the oldest high academic school in this country has been host to such an annual event. The main objective of the conference is to stimulate the exchange of ideas and experience among Confucius Institutes in Europe and to promote their cooperation and balanced development. There were participants from 22 countries: Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Monte Negro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Belarus, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Moldova, Sweden, Holland and Belgium. There were also representatives of Chinese universities and educational institutions and heads of Bulgarian academic institutions where Chinese is taught.

The conference will last two days when the directors of Confucius Institutes will meet in small groups discussing various issues. The topics will cover problems of the teaching of the Chinese language in the schools and universities of Europe, the possibilities for cooperation with the business world, etc.

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Confucius Institute in Sofia is the first on the Balkan Peninsula and one of the first in Eastern Europe. It was opened on 9th June, 2006 as a partnership organization between Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and Beijing University for Foreign Languages with the support of the Council for the International Dissemination of the Chinese Language at the Ministry of Education of China (Hanban). Its activities were officially launched on 22 June, 2007. In view of the potential and the opportunities for development, in December, 2013, Confucius Institute at Sofia University was raised in status to a Model for the development of Confucius Institutes. It is only 14 of the 475 such institutes in the world that have been given such a status.

As part of the international network of cultural institutes Confucius Institute provides a platform for the realization of educational, scientific and cultural projects related to China. The Institute organizes language courses of different levels, administers the standardized Chinese language test (HSK), every year organizes two national rounds of the “Chinese language bridge competition” for school and university students.

The Institute sets up teams of translation experts and publishers of classical and modern Chinese literary works, the establishment of a Chinese literary forum and the student competition for the translation of Chinese literature. In February, 2015, with the assistance of Confucius Institute the first novel written by the Nobel Prizewinner Mo Yan Life and Death are Wearing Me Out was translated from Chinese and published in this country. The world-known Chinese writer became Doctor Honoris Causa of Sofia University in 2014. Again, in February, 2015, Confucius Institute organized a Festival of Modern Chinese Cinema for the first time in this country.