George Mason University has a strong Chinese program and well-developed linkages with Chinese universities and institutions that support a diverse group of China-related activities throughout the university.
Mason students can choose from many China-related courses including Chinese language, history, and art history as well as Classical Chinese, Contemporary Chinese film, Readings in Chinese Poetry, Business Chinese, and Post-Mao Literature. Students may elect to major or minor in Chinese (chinese.gmu.edu), and can take part in the many China-related activities and performances held on campus, as well as opportunities for short and long-term study in China. George Mason also has a vibrant international community of students, scholars and faculty, including an active Chinese Students and Scholars Association that sponsors cultural events on campus.
In 2009, George Mason University opened the first Confucius Institute in Virginia (confucius.gmu.edu), in partnership with Beijing Language and Culture University, China’s premier university for the study of Chinese as a second language. The Confucius Institute sponsors events on campus, offers scholarships for China study and non-credit Chinese language and culture classes for the community, and holds activities throughout Northern Virginia. It also works closely with public school systems in Northern Virginia and Washington DC.
The US-China 1+2+1 Program (china121.gmu.edu) is a dual degree program that brings more than 30 Chinese students to George Mason University each year. The students come to Mason after spending their first year at one of Mason’s Chinese partner universities (http://china121.gmu.edu/about/partner). They spend two to three years studying at Mason before returning to their original university in China for their senior year and graduating with degrees from each school. The program has forged strong links between Mason and its 16 Chinese university partners, serving as a catalyst for a visiting scholar exchange, an exchange of musicians, and other collaborations.
George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development offers one of the country’s few programs for training Chinese language teachers (http://gse.gmu.edu/programs/chinese), which in recent years has been supplemented by short-term summer institutes for Chinese language teachers from around the country.
The university’s Chinese name — 梅森大学 –translates literally as plum tree forest university and was chosen because the Chinese words for plum tree forest (“mei sen”) sound like the word “Mason.” To give this Chinese name true meaning, a group of students and faculty raised funds in 2006 to plant a small plum tree grove on campus. In 2008, the university received a large bronze statue of Confucius from the Confucius Academy of Hong Kong in recognition of Mason’s multiple training programs and links with China. The Confucius statue now looks out over the growing Plum Tree grove next to Mason Pond, and both stand as a tangible testament to the university’s many China connections.