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U of M to open American Cultural Center for Sport in China on March 20

March 12, 2012

On March 20 the University of Minnesota will celebrate the grand opening of a unique center that will share U.S. culture with the Chinese people through the medium of sport. The American Cultural Center for Sport is funded by a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State and will be a partnership between the University’s China Center and School of Kinesiology and the Tianjin University of Sport in Tianjin, China.

The main objective of the center is to demonstrate to the Chinese people how sport culture and values are integrated into the larger American society and how these cultural values influence American viewpoints, global outlook and engagement in everything from business and politics to arts and communication.

“Many concepts drawn from sport, such as ‘fair play’ and ‘pursuit of excellence,’ are infused in the values and beliefs of Americans, regardless of whether they participate in sports,” said Joan Brzezinski, executive director of the China Center. “This center will help the Chinese develop a deeper understanding of how sport culture impacts all of our interactions, whether person-to-person or country-to-country.”

The center will organize events and provide resources such as athletic exchanges and collaborations, guest lectures by university faculty and other experts, a reading room of print and online resources, and training for teachers to integrate the culture of sport into their curricula.

The new center will take advantage of the many resources of the University of Minnesota, including its highly ranked School of Kinesiology and its NCAA Division I athletics programs. The School of Kinesiology is ranked among the top 10 programs nationally, and its faculty have expertise in sport-related culture programs. The School’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport is dedicated to exploring the impact of sport, recreation and physical activity on the lives of girls and women. Dr. Li Li Ji, the school’s director, has experience bringing Chinese Olympic athletes to the United States to study sports management and U.S. culture.

“Sport is a tie between cultures without dispute. It served to open the doors for new relations between the United States and China in the ’70s and continues to serve as a strong connection between the two peoples,” said Ji. “The new center in Tianjin will be a window to showcase American sports and physical education to promote health, fitness, human development and social-culture integration in China.”

The University of Minnesota has a long history of exchange with China. The university’s relationship with China practically began with an exchange of sport—the first three students from China enrolled in 1914 and excelled as star players on the soccer team. Today, the University hosts more than 1,400 students from China, and its faculty are working with Chinese researchers to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The University of Minnesota opened its first overseas office in Beijing, in 2008.

About the University of Minnesota’s China Center
The China Center was established in 1979 to manage the University of Minnesota's exchanges with the People's Republic of China. For more than three decades, the China Center has reflected the firm and long-standing commitment of the University to international research, teaching and outreach.

About the School of Kinesiology
The University’s School of Kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Development is one of the premier institutes in the nation to study exercise and movement. Its academic endeavor focuses on the biological, developmental, social and behavioral bases of physical activity, recreation, sport and human performance through its programs in kinesiology, sport management, and recreation, park, and leisure studies. It prepares students for a variety of professional opportunities in both public and private sectors that include teaching, research, health promotion, rehabilitation, medicine, coaching, sport administration and services related to physical activity and fitness.

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