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University opens American Cultural Center for Sport in China

11china_tianjin.gifOn March 20 the University of Minnesota celebrated 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 business, education, politics, law, 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."

CulturalCenter2.jpgThe 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 ten 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 U.S. 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 U.S. and China in the '70s and continues to serve as a strong connection between the two peoples," says 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."

Ji and Tucker Center associate director Nicole Lavoi (in the photo) traveled with a University delegation to Tianjin for the opening. See more on this story here.

See the press release on the center's grand opening here.

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