Confucius Institute temporarily closes

The Confucius Institute at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) is temporarily shut, pending the outcome of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the return of its Chinese staff.

Confucius Institute Director, Dr. Tony Guijen Liang, confirmed the shutdown from China in a WeChat messaging exchange with the Samoa Observer.

He said the institute's closure is due to the lack of staff in Samoa, after they all travelled with him to China in December last year to attend an international conference on Chinese Language Education.

The staff were stranded after the Samoa Government imposed restrictions targeting travellers from China, following the outbreak of the COVID-19.

Dr Liang said he started his annual vacation afterwards for two months and failed to return on time.

“The time for departure is not yet decided however we are expecting to return to Samoa as soon as possible,” he said. “For safety and health reasons, the time for our returning depends on both the development of the situation and the Samoan travel policy.”

The Institute is a joint initiative with the university and is currently under the co-direction of N.U.S. Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr. Desmond Lee Hang and Dr Liang. 

Chinese classes at the N.U.S have been postponed due to the absence of the Chinese lecturers.

However, one Chinese language volunteer remains in Samoa and begun teaching when the 2020 academic year opened.

The volunteer is teaching at the Magiagi and Vaivase Primary Schools as part of Institute’s Chinese language programs.

The Institute has also been rolling out Chinese language classes to staff at the Ministry of Customs and Revenue and the Samoa Tourism Authority since last year.

But classes at the Ministry and the S.T.A. have been postponed following the outbreak of the COVID-19. 

According to Dr Liang, Chinese government has made progress in its efforts to control the virus and protect its people from potential infection.

He assured of their safety from the virus as well as that of the Samoan students currently studying in China.

“Now the situation in China is getting better and people including Samoan students in China are feeling very safe and secured,” he said.

“We sincerely thank the Head of State and the P.M. of Samoa for solid support, help and best wishes to China and Chinese people.”

He acknowledged the support from the Samoan Ambassador to China, N.U.S. Vice Chancellor and President to the Samoan students in China and students of Confucius Institute in Samoa, who expressed their support and concern.

The Chinese business community in Samoa also donated a lot to Wuhan, according to the Director.

“I sincerely hope that the virus be far away from Samoa for good. I believe this solid relationship between China and Samoa will last forever,” Dr. Liang added. 

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