HAVANA, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Confucius Institute at the University of Havana celebrated its ninth anniversary on Wednesday with dancing, singing and kung fu performances as well as cooking competitions.
The non-profit Confucius Institute has offered Chinese language classes and promoted cultural exchanges and Cuba-China friendship.
"Our goal is that by teaching Chinese language and culture we can establish new bridges of friendship," said Zhang Wei, Chinese co-director of the institute. "During these nine years with the strong support of the Cuban government ... we have achieved quite a lot and in the future we hope to contribute more to the friendly ties between Cuba and China."
Zhang said the past nine years saw some 5,000 Cubans, young and old, attending the institute's free Chinese language programs. Every year about 2000 to 900 students enroll for language courses at six levels.
Zhang added that Chinese language programs will be offered starting in early 2019 at the University of Matanzas, some 140 km east of the Cuban capital. "We hope we can develop Chinese language classrooms in other provinces," he added. "We hope to cooperate with other universities to offer the opportunity to all Cubans who want to learn Chinese."
"This year we developed a new project in cooperation with the tourism department of the University of Havana, listing the Chinese language as an optional course."
Elisa Cabrera, Cuban co-director of the Confucius Institute, said the institute has expanded in the past two years, including an optional class on traditional Chinese medicine for college students that was started this year.
"We're working to include Mandarin as a second language for University of Havana students majoring in foreign languages starting in 2019," she added.
Eliany Ferriol, a computer engineering graduate and first-year student at the Confucius Institute, said it has become very popular in the Caribbean island state to learn Chinese as many young people think highly of the friendly relations and cooperation with China.
"I want to get to know new cultures and this institute offers us exactly that. Not only do we learn the language but also about the country with which we have such good relations," said Ferriol.