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Columbia library: gifts from China

A bronze bust of Chinese educator Tao Xingzhi, presented by practitioners of Tao's educational philosophy from China, is unveiled on Jan 22 at the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University. Jim Cheng (second from left), director of the East Asian Library; Ann Thornton (in purple jacket), vice-provost and university librarian; Jake Jia (third from right), president of Dragon Summit Foundation; and Tao Zheng (second from right), Tao Xingzhi's granddaughter attended the event.

C.V. Starr East Asian Library at university gets endowment to go with bronze bust

The C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University received two Chinese-themed gifts just before a blizzard paralyzed New York City.

A bronze bust of renowned Chinese educator Tao Xingzhi was unveiled on Jan 22 evening in the library's reading room. At the same time, the Dragon Summit Foundation, a New York City-based non-profit organization committed to promoting cultural exchange between the US and East Asia, announced the establishment of an endowment fund for the library.

"Two weeks ago, when Columbia's president Lee Bollinger met with Chinese premier in China, he emphasized the great importance of Columbia's cooperation with China," said vice-provost and university librarian Ann Thornton. She pointed out that the new bust and endowment fund will help carry the relationship forward.

Chinese educator and reformer Tao Xingzhi attended Columbia University's Teachers College from 1915 to 1917, where he studied educational philosophy under American education reformer John Dewey.

After returning to China, Tao organized the National Association of Mass Education Movement and became the nation's leading promoter of rural teacher education. He later founded Xiaozhuang Normal College in Nanjing to train teachers who were sent to schools in the countryside.

In collaboration with China America Friendship Association USA, 33 practitioners of Tao's educational philosophy flew to the US from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chongqing and other Chinese cities to present the bronze bust to Tao's alma mater.

Tao's own granddaughter, Tao Zheng, was with the group, and it was her first visit to the United States. "Though I never met my grandfather - he passed away in 1946, and I was born in 1948 - I grew up listening to the legendary stories of his life. Our whole family is so proud of my grandfather," said Tao Zheng, who became a teacher herself.

"I'm so excited to be here, learning about the school where my grandfather received his education and seeing his statue unveiled and permanently located here," she said. "We all respect him greatly."

The Dragon Summit Culture Endowment Fund, with initial principal funding of $100,000, will be primarily used for projects and studies related to East Asian visual culture.

The first event funded by the cause - Esther Eng and Other Challenges to Women and World Cinema - will be held in February. Eng was the first female director to direct Chinese-language films in the US.

"Chinese are getting rich and they are now becoming more and more aware of how to give back to public causes, such as education and culture," said Jim Cheng, director of the East Asian Library.

"During China's most difficult time - the beginning of the 20th century - the US opened up, especially universities, which accepted a lot of Chinese students," he continued. "Columbia educated, prepared and helped create a generation of top scholars, scientists, educators, and philosophers for China. I think now it's time for China to give back, to thank the US education system."

"I'm so happy to see it's happening," he added.

Original post from China Daily USA:


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