COLUMBIA — MU's Ellis Library welcomed about 2,000 new items to its Asian collection on Friday morning.

The Confucius Institute, a non-profit organization based in Beijing, presented the library with the materials to add to MU's Asian collection.

The various volumes and resources cover a wide range of education levels, including materials to teach local elementary school kids Chinese and scholarly texts more suitable for college students.

The collection includes teaching aides, posters and musical instruments in addition to books. Now all of these resources will be available to the entire community, not just MU faculty and students.

"We will be making them available to anyone that wants them," James Cogswell, the director of Ellis Library, said.

Universities around the world work with Beijing's Confucius Institute to set up institutes on their own campuses. The institutes then help campuses gain a greater awareness and understanding of Chinese culture and language.

MU, as well as the entire city of Columbia, have been involved with China for many years. Numerous departments on campus have visited and worked with the country.

"The engagement has been geographically extensive," said Handy Williamson, MU's vice provost for International Programs. "China is a big country, MU's ambitions have been big and our relationships are also big." 

Local interest in Chinese culture will continue this summer and fall. Four teachers with the Columbia Public Schools District will be learning Mandarin and traveling to China this summer in order to begin teaching the language next school year.

Erica Borcherding, a language arts teacher at Lange Middle School, is excited for the opportunity to learn the language and experience the culture.

"It's on my bucket list to learn Mandarin," Borcherding said.

Next year will be the first time Columbia Public Schools will offer sections of beginning Chinese classes, said Chris Belcher, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools.

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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