"Many Slovenian business executives come to learn at the institute"
What would you say is the biggest achievement of the Ljubljana Confucius Institute?
The biggest achievement of CI Ljubljana is that it has been an important window for Slovenian people to connect with China as an important platform for educational, cultural, and individual exchange, greatly enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples of two countries. Based on the local needs, CI Ljubljana works with 30 plus partner schools at various levels in different cities and offers a variety of courses including Chinese language and culture courses, credit courses for different faculties, and more. The courses provide good opportunities for Slovenian people to know more about China and Chinese culture. As the Vice Mayor of Ljubljana Dejan Crnek puts it, "The introduction of Chinese language and culture programs to our schools makes our city more diverse and inclusive, and our citizens always feel close to Chinese culture." By organizing annual summer camps for students and education trips for teachers to China, receiving education delegations from top universities and institutions in China who wish to seek collaboration opportunities, staging wonderful performances conducted by Slovenian and Chinese artists, and hosting joint theme exhibitions, CI Ljubljana provides people from different sectors in both countries a platform to communicate, work, and collaborate with each other, bringing new ideas together. In these processes, they learn from each other, and build mutual understanding and friendship.
How can the institute help students who want to study in China?
As a platform to facilitate individual exchanges, CI Ljubljana tries its best to help Slovenian students who want to study in China. The services include administering Chinese language proficiency test, coordinating language competitions, and arranging study tours to China for students. Through CI, students can apply for the Confucius Institute scholarships and Confucius China Studies Program. Various scholarships allow them to study short or long-term in China. Confucius China Studies Program also recruits students to study in China towards doctoral degrees in social sciences and humanities. Understanding China Fellowship and Young Leaders Fellowship will be offered to fund research and study tours to China. If the student wins the first prize in the Chinese Bridge Competition, he or she is automatically entitled to a year-long scholarship in China.
Do many Slovenian business people come to learn Chinese at the institute? How can you help them be successful in the Chinese market?
With business as its background, CI Ljubljana also offers business and culture-related courses, which cover a wide range of topics from Chinese business environment to business etiquette to finesse and practice. Many Slovenian business executives come to learn at the institute because they are fully aware that language is the best key to understanding a culture and a country. The greeting in Mandarin "ni hao" (How are you) instantly shortens the distance between people and builds up trust among Chinese business partners. If necessary CI Ljubljana also offers tailor-made cross-culture courses for companies and enterprises, which helps executives cultivate a culturally-sensitive mind and become prepared for different models of management. Webinars are also available online on such topics as the Chinese mindset series and the Chinese Tourist Welcome Quality Host (CTWQH) certificate program for people from the tourism sector. For future business leaders, CI Ljubljana has been running in a special credit course for students in English called "How to do Business with China" (HBWC) at the School of Business and Economics, one of the most popular courses among international and Slovenian students. This course aims to provide as much practical experience as possible to students, guests from business practice are regularly invited to share their experiences. Students also need to figure out solutions for a company facing a specific issue in China, which also adds strong value for Slovenian companies. Through these courses, the students will have advantage over others in either doing business with China or securing ideal jobs.
How do Slovenians in general respond to activities like the Days of Chinese culture and celebrations of major Chinese holidays organized by the institute?
Many activities and cultural events ran by CI Ljubljana are very well received by locals and the number of participants is the best proof. These events not only provide opportunities for Slovenian people to better understand Chinese culture and art, but more importantly to provide a stage to present themselves as well. CI Ljubljana attaches great importance to the participation of local people and interactive nature of the events. In the celebration of 2019 Spring Festival, all the Chinese pieces performed by Slovenian artists are done with Slovenian flavor. Every year for the Double Ninth Festival (Seniors' Day in China), CI surprises seniors in retirement homes by staging performances and offering Chinese delicacies. Recipients are moved-overjoyed-by receiving their name written in Chinese calligraphy. The Dragon Boat race this year on the Ljubljanica River attracted 12 teams and over 500 audience members. It's amazing to see the teams, made up of Slovenian and Chinese members, paddle for the same goal. For some culture events, CI Ljubljana collects feedback through apps like SurveyMonkey. The feedback of CI's recent event "Digitalization of payments as a tool to boost Chinese tourism: Case of Alipay in Finland on 05/23/2019" showed that the vast majority of the participants (over 95 percent) enjoyed the event very much and will recommend the event to their friends.