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Congratulations to Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota’s (CIUMN) executive director, Joan Brzezinski, who was awarded a 2012 Confucius Institute Individual Performance Excellence Award. She received the award at a ceremony during the 7th Annual Confucius Institute Conference in Beijing, held on December 16-18, 2012. This honor, given to only 30 people who are affiliated with the 400 Confucius Institutes worldwide, recognizes Ms. Brzezinski for exceptional service and leadership.
The Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban recognizes organizations for their programs with the Confucius Institute of the Year Award and recognizes individuals for their dedication with the Individual Performance Excellence Award. A selection committee of 300 Chinese partner organizations selected Ms. Brzezinski as an awardee of the Individual Performance Excellence Award where they cited her contributions to connecting more than 20,000 Minnesotans to Chinese language and culture through the opening of two CIUMN satellite offices in Crookston and Duluth, MN; collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Education on Hanban Volunteer Teacher programs; encouraging high levels of participation in the Youth Chinese Test (YCT); being awarded StarTalk grants for four consecutive years to provide Mandarin teacher training programs; and introducing innovative summer camp programs for youth.
Ms. Brzezinski’s connection with China dates back to her undergraduate years, when she was selected to participate in the reciprocal exchange program at Peking University, the first undergraduate-level exchange program with a private university in the U.S. In 1997, she joined the University of Minnesota’s China Center where she administered the unit’s business and activities. She coordinated the University’s efforts to establish a Confucius Institute and became the director of the newly established Confucius Institute in 2008. Since then, she has assisted Minnesota in discussions with the Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban regarding the state-level visiting teachers program, developed a number of professional development seminars and meetings for Chinese language teachers throughout Minnesota, and worked with school districts to bring quality Chinese language programming to schools and enhance Chinese cultural offerings throughout Minnesota. She became the executive director of the China Center and the Confucius Institute in 2012.