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Award for the University of the Aegean

On Tuesday, February 21, 2023, at the Kleovoulos building on the Campus of the University of the Aegean in Rhodes, the Center of Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC) held an official award ceremony for the University of the Aegean’s innovative program of Chinese Language Online Learning.

Several Chinese and Greek dignitaries attended the event: the Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Sun Chunlan, Ministers and senior officials from the Chinese government, the Ambassador of China in Greece, members of the Chinese Embassy in Athens, the Rector of the University of the Aegean Professor Chryssi Vitsilaki, the Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Professor Elena Theodoropoulou, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities Professor Yiannis Seimenis, the Regional Governor of the South Aegean Mr Giorgios Hatzimarkos, the Mayor of Rhodes Mr Antonis Kambourakis, the MP’s from New Democracy Mr Vassilis Ypsilantis and from SYRIZA-PA Mr Dimitris Gakis, representatives of the political, religious, and military authorities of Rhodes, as well as members of the Rhodes academic community of the University of the Aegean and the Rhodian society.

The ceremony began with a delightful performance by the mixed choir of the Municipality of Rhodes, under the direction of the conductor Michalis Kalaentzis, performing Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hatzidakis, which received a standing ovation. The duet of two female students of the programme was a special moment for the event as they sang in Chinese with a guitar accompaniment and impressed the audience and the H.E., the Vice Premier, who made a special mention of them in her welcome address.

This was followed by greetings – speeches of the Rector of the University of the Aegean, Professor Chryssi Vitsilaki, the Regional Governor of the South Aegean, Mr Giorgios Hatzimarkos, the Mayor of Rhodes, Mr Antonis Kambourakis and H.E. the Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Sun Chunlan.

The Rector, Prof. Chryssi Vitsilaki, referred to the award of the University of the Aegean for the innovative program “Online Chinese Classroom”, which is now used worldwide and provides a pioneering approach to learning the Chinese language. The University of the Aegean’s collaboration in this project was the natural outcome of the close ties developed with academic institutions in China and the widely recognised scientific knowledge and long experience of the University of the Aegean in e-learning and e-governance as an islander institution. The highly successful organisation and operation of the “Online Chinese Classroom” program is the fruit of the close cooperation between the University of the Aegean and accredited educational institutions in China, with the support of the Chinese Embassy and the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. We will seek to extend this excellent joint program at the local and national level and expand the teaching of the Greek language and culture at Chinese universities. By decision of the University’s Academic Senate, we have established the “Hellenic-Chinese Language and Culture Centre”, through which we will continue to support this cooperation.

The Rector concluded: “…For the young generation of China and Greece, learning the language and culture of the other country is crucial to consolidate the friendship and bond between the two peoples. We are thus very optimistic for the future of this cooperation. We only have to seize the opportunities that present themselves and continue to build and create the conditions for a brighter future for ourselves and future generations of our countries.”

The Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China spoke warmly about the relations between the two countries and, of course, the close cooperation with the University of the Aegean and announced that the Chinese government would donate equipment, books, scholarships, and invitations for students attending the programme to go to China.

In particular, she said: “…It is with great pleasure that I attend here on behalf of the Chinese government and would like to congratulate you on the Chinese language learning programme. China and Greece are representatives of two great cultures of the East and the West. Our civilisations flourished simultaneously at the two ends of the Eurasian region. Language is the epitome of civilisation and the best criterion for perceiving a country as one of the oldest and most beautiful languages in the world. Today, more and more people from all over the world are learning Chinese for academic reasons and not only. Over 180 countries teach Chinese at all levels, and over 30 million people are learning the language. The University of the Aegean programme is very important. It all started online in 2020 with Chinese language courses for 3000 students. After the University of the Aegean, 20 similar online classes followed in 16 countries, including the UK and France. It is an innovative project and an important option for Chinese language learning. Language is an important bridge to promote relations between us, and I hope our Greek friends will continue to support our cooperation and encourage the learning of Chinese – through various means…”

At the closing of the event, the award ceremony of the University of the Aegean took place.

Finally, the Vice Premier of the Government of the People’s Republic of China attended an online Chinese language course, conversed with the participants, and expressed her satisfaction with this project’s organisation, implementation, and results.

Rhodes 23/02/2023

The Rector,

Professor Chryssi Vitsilaki