Introducing the China Sustainability Initiative

The Chinese Language Institute, in conjunction with Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources, is proud to introduce the China Sustainability Initiative (CSI). In May 2011, CLI and CSI will offer its first joint professional development program — an 11-day sustainability seminar in the gorgeous southern Chinese province of Guangxi.  

Rice Terraces of Longsheng
Longsheng Rice Terraces

The China Sustainability Initiative was founded in 2009 to work with partner organizations concerned with environmental conservation, natural resource management, and sustainable development in China. Partners include a growing number of public and private institutions, including the International Fund for China’s Environment, Yunnan Natural and Cultural Heritage Conservation Council, and the Chinese Language Institute.   CSI and CLI’s joint winter 2011 program runs from May 17th to May 28th. Senior undergraduates, graduate students and working professionals are eligible for enrollment. No prior knowledge of Chinese language or natural resource studies is required. For more information, please contact CLI. Space is limited, so apply early!   China Sustainability Initiative May 2011 Program Brochure

Why Learn Chinese?


What You Might Already Know

  1. China is one of the world’s oldest and richest continuous cultures, over 5000 years old.
  2. China is the most populous nation in the world, with 1.28 billion people.
  3. One fifth of the planet speaks Chinese. Mandarin Chinese is the mother tongue of over 873 million people, making it the most widely spoken first language in the world.
  4. In addition to the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, Mandarin Chinese is also spoken in the important and influential Chinese communities of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Mongolia.
  5. China is the second largest economy in the world.
  6. China is one of largest trading partners of the United States.
  7. Many US companies do business in China and have long-term investments there.

Some Surprising Facts

  1. Chinese has a relatively uncomplicated grammar. Unlike French, German or English, Chinese has no verb conjugation (no need to memorize verb tenses!) and no noun declension (e.g., gender and number distinctions). For example, while someone learning English has to learn different verb forms like “see/saw/seen,” all you need to do in Chinese is just to remember one word: kan. While in English you have to distinguish between “cat” and “cats,” in Chinese there is only one form: mao. (Chinese conveys these distinctions of tense and number in other ways, of course.)
  2. The basic word order of Chinese is subject — verb — object, exactly as in English. A large number of the key terms of Mandarin Chinese (such as the terms for state, health, science, party, inflation, and even literature) have been formed as translations of English concepts. You are entering a different culture, but the content of many of the modern key concepts is familiar.

Remember These Two Things

  1. Currently Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over 1 billion people around the world, about one fifth of the global population.
  2. Each year more and more students around the world whose mother tongue is not Mandarin are studying it with enthusiasm and success. If they all can learn it, so can you!

Chinese is Important for Your Career!

  1. International businesses prefer to hire people who speak more than one language. China has become a huge market and business leaders are looking for people who can speak Chinese and operate successfully in a Chinese cultural context.
  2. Knowing Chinese may give you an edge when competing for an important position.
  3. China will play a major role in world affairs in the future. As China now has opened up to the West, there are opportunities for employment in all areas.
  4. China is a wonderful country in which to teach English while developing your language and cultural skills. The experience is great, and it’s something you will never forget.

*All images are of CLI students enrolled in the Immersion Program.

Summer Travel Excursion to Yangshuo

Yangshuo Li River
Li River Bamboo Boat Ride

This past weekend CLI led our summer session students to Yangshuo (阳朔) for two days of bike riding through Guangxi’s karst landscape, swimming in the Yulong He (遇龙河, River of Dragon Encounters) and relaxing on Xi Jie (西街, West Street). Yangshuo is easily one of earth’s most beautiful and mysterious settings, with limestone mountains seemingly plucked from another world and carefully scattered along the Li River (漓江).   The four-hour bike ride through the Yangshuo countryside is always a student favorite. On this occasion, we embarked from West Street after a filling early morning breakfast, rented around fifteen single-geared and basket-equipped bikes, and embarked into the thick of the mountain landscape. For such a mountainous region, the land between the karst formations is amazingly flat, hence the suitable Wizard of Oz bicycles.  

Yangshuo Mountains
View from Moon Mountain

Being roughly even in latitude with the United States’ Florida Keys, Yangshuo’s summer sun is high and blazing. Two hours into our cruise through the countryside, an early afternoon swim hit the spot. After cooling off in the river, we next feasted at Yueliangde Mama (月亮的妈妈, Moon’s Mother), and finally returned to West Street to board our Guilin-bound bus. A day well spent in Guilin County.   Yangshuo has no doubt changed in favor of ever-increasing tourism, but for good reason. The quaint town is engulfed by breathtaking mountains and waterways, its rich air is pure and smooth, and its local population is friendly and welcoming. Yangshuo is simply one of a kind.   桂林山水甲天下,阳朔山水甲桂林