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UNG celebrates Asian partnerships

A student practices writing characters during a Chinese class at the University of North Georgia during the Summer Language Institute.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) celebrates the Chinese Year of the Horse by honoring the university's growing Chinese language program and international partnerships.

"The growing importance of Asia in the world is affecting every sector of the U.S. society, including education," said Dr. John Wilson, acting director for the Center for Global Engagement (CGE). "Our commitment to expansion of Asian partnerships and programs enriches our campus and provides our students with skills to compete in a 21st century workforce. UNG respects and appreciates the cultural and academic opportunities these relationships provide us, and we remain dedicated to pursuing and expanding these programs for our students throughout the Asian world." 

UNG recently acquired the Maner L. Thorpe Collection of Asian Studies books, which numbers some 1,000 volumes covering travel, history and culture. A California native and veteran of the Korean War, Thorpe had a lifelong interest in Asia and taught at Columbia University and the University of California; he died in February 2012.

Dr. Tim May, professor of central Eurasian history and head of UNG's Department of History, Anthropology and Philosophy, was instrumental in getting the collection from Thorpe's daughter, Frances Rosenberg. Several colleges and universities, including University of Cambridge, University of Bonn in Germany, University of Kyrgyzstan, Indiana University and Western Washington University, had expressed interest in the collection, May said.

"This fills what was a large hole in our collection and includes some great works," May said. "I think what really grabbed her was the sincerity of our request and that I explained how these books would benefit the university."

The collection includes books by Owen Lattimore, an American author and scholar who lived in China and Mongolia in the 1920s through 1940s and later taught Asian studies at Johns Hopkins University and Cambridge.

UNG also received was given a painting by renowned Chinese artist Feihong Yan. Last fall, representatives from the Beijing Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Association for International Exchanges visited UNG, and donated Yan's, "The Two Beautiful Horses." The group also donated books about Yan and his art. Yan often depicts horses in his artwork, which is highly sought by collectors of Asian art. Yan's 2010 drawing of a horse sold for $228,000 at the Beijing Hanhai Art Auction in 2011 and his work has been displayed in the Great Hall of the People, the political hub of Beijing.

Chinese and Korean are among the 10 languages taught at UNG, and students can earn a bachelor's degree in modern languages with a concentration in Arabic, Chinese, French, or Spanish. Largely driven by student interest, the Chinese program has grown swiftly since the university first began offering Chinese classes in 2006. Federal funding also has helped grow UNG's language programs. Last year, UNG signed contracts renewing nearly $2 million in Department of Defense grants to support three programs aimed at increasing knowledge in strategic languages and culture: the Language Training Center, Project Global Officers (GO), and the Chinese Language Flagship program.

UNG has exchange agreements with Liaocheng University in China, Sogang University in South Korea and the Republic of China Military Academy in Taiwan. UNG also offers study abroad programs across the region, including a new program in Goa, India. Currently, some 30 Asian international students are studying at UNG.

A Chinese New Year celebration featuring the unveiling of the books and artwork previously had been planned for Jan. 30 in the Library Technology Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus, but has been postponed. A new date will be announced, and the public is invited to the free event.

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