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Meet the Faculty

Connecting Cave Hill to China

Cave Hill’s Confucius Institute has taken the world by storm. Success must be accredited in significant part to the work of its teaching faculty including HSK Co-ordinator, Dr. Yanhua ‘Lisa’ Li and Volunteer Mandarin Teacher Ms. Xuejing ‘April’ Zhang.

Less than three years after the establishment of the Cave Hill Confucius Institute in December 2017, the principal of the campus Professor Eudine Barriteau had the honour of stepping up to the podium in Xi’an China to accept the prestigious Confucius Institute of the Year award. Not only did our campus institute triumph over 500 competitors from across the globe, but it was the youngest ever to win the top prize.

Headship at the Cave Hill Confucius Institute is vibrant and culturally diverse.  Dr. Qingbao ‘Paul’ Song, an expert in Chinese language and culture serves as the Chinese Co-Director.  From the institute’s start, he has been supported by Co- Directors with regional roots including François Jackman,  who has now gone on to be the Barbadian Ambassador to China; Dr. Ché Corbin - a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) who is fluent in Mandarin and now Mr. David Bulbulia who also serves as the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Chinese Language and HSK Testing
HSK is the world’s gold standard certification for proficiency in Chinese Mandarin, and the Cave Hill Institute is the only official HSK Testing Centre in the entire Eastern Caribbean. As HSK Co-ordinator, Dr. Li leads the language instruction arm of the institute. An expert in teaching Chinese Mandarin to non-Chinese, she and her dedicated team of teaching assistants have succeeded in disseminating language skills to the Barbadian community in record time.

Elementary to advanced Chinese language classes are offered to several institutions including St. Stephen’s Primary, the Ellerslie Secondary School,  Queen’s College, the Charles F. Broome Primary School, the Springer Memorial Secondary School, the Central Bank of Barbados, the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, the Caribbean Examinations Council and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Outreach to the Springer Memorial Secondary School

University staff and students also benefit from language instruction.  Students at the Cave Hill Campus can now register through the Department of Language, Linguistics and Literature for a Minor in Chinese Studies or even take a ‘not for credit’ course in Beginners Chinese.
The opportunity to learn Mandarin right here at Cave Hill has proved especially beneficial to the students registered in BSc. Software Engineering since the last two years of this degree programme as well as the internship component are completed in China. The Institute’s Co-Director Dr. Song is also leading on the development of a CXC syllabus in Mandarin so that secondary students across the Caribbean region can gain proficiency in the Chinese language.
Building the Caribbean-Chinese Connection
However, language education is but one of the bridges being built by the Cave Hill Institute into its local and international communities.  Having a cadre of Chinese professionals who are proficient in English allows the Confucius Institute to provide translation services to business and government forums. This translation facility was inaugurated when Ms. Xuejing ‘April’ Zhang provided escort interpretation services for our Principal Professor Barriteau and for the then Barbadian Minister of Tourism, the Honorable Richard Sealy.  

The Institute has also established a collaborative relationship with the Chinese Embassy in Barbados to host seminars and events designed to share Chinese history and culture. To date, this arrangement has brought Chinese dance troupes, practitioners in traditional medicine and professional food carvers to share their expertise with the people of Barbados. UWI students also take part in an annual Chinese Bridge Competition where a free trip to China is won by the contestant demonstrating the greatest proficiency in Mandarin and in Chinese Culture Studies.
Moving Forward
The team at the Cave Hill Confucius Institute is just getting started, bolstered by the keen interest of the Caribbean community in the language, history and people of China. Dr. Li’s experience in teaching Mandarin to Caribbean people has already culminated in a paper presented at the Third International Conference for the Teaching of Chinese in Mexico City in 2016, and she looks forward to producing more academic research on the Caribbean-China connection.   

At present the institute offers HSK preparation classes up to level 4, but is moving to certify candidates up to Level 6 (the highest level) especially in light of how excellently their students have performed in the HSK examinations taken so far. Certification in Mandarin is vital to the internationalisation of the Caribbean region since China’s increasing presence in global relations and trade has meant that more international business deals are being transacted in Chinese. 

Dr. Li with the first cohort of HSK graduates in 2016
Stamps and Culture Equal Fun
Having worked in Europe and South Korea before moving to Barbados, Dr. Li notes that the island has a unique culture which she enjoys.  An avid stamp collector she also looks forward to carving time out of her schedule to visit the General Post Office here in Barbados to see what is on offer. Dr. Li also let us in on the ‘secret’ that she and Dr. Song are actually husband and wife, who support each other in the goal of the taking the Cave Hill Institute to even greater heights.  
Volunteer Mandarin Teacher April Zhang loves the culture and people of Barbados.  So much so that she made the decision to rejoin the Cave Hill Institute in November 2018, after having returned to China in June 2017 to complete the requirements of her graduate degree in English Language Translation and Interpretation.
Lisa, April and the first two Co-Directors of the Confucius Institute - Dr. Paul Song and Mr. Francois Jackman

We at Cave Hill are excited at the community outreach and the language training that has been accomplished so far, and look on in eager anticipation to see the future accomplishments of our globally acclaimed Confucius Institute.

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