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Royal Decoration for Xuefei Knoester-Cao

26 April 2016
Xuefei Knoester-Cao
Xuefei Knoester-Cao

On Tuesday 26 April  Xuefei Knoester-Cao has been appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau .

Xuefei Knoester-Cao

Xuefei Knoester-Cao (Nanjing, China, 1975) is Director the Dutch Studies Centre (DSC) jointly established by the University of Groningen and Fudan University, Shanghai, one of the top universities in China. The Centre teaches Chinese students about Dutch culture, history, philosophy and language. Knoester-Cao developed the idea for the DSC on her own initiative in 2004, before presenting the proposal to the highest levels of both universities and subsequently taking personal charge of the complicated negotiations. She has always been and remains the driving force behind the Centre, which welcomes professors from Groningen as guest lecturers every year, and where many Chinese students are taught about and conduct research on the Netherlands. The DSC celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2015. Knoester-Cao’s exceptional gift for diplomacy and her thorough knowledge of both the Chinese and Dutch languages and cultures allow her to resolve any hitches in a collaborative project between two such different countries. Without her commitment and very long working weeks – which often run to more than sixty hours – the DSC would never have become a reality.

Using her experience with the Dutch Studies Centre, Knoester-Cao personally took the initiative in 2008 to set up a European Studies Centre at the equally renowned Tsinghua University in Beijing. Her hard work and original approach led to Groningen suddenly being seen in a new light, as a beautiful, safe city in which to study, as a city and a university offering a ‘gateway to Europe’. Dozens of Chinese students every year study the role of the Netherlands in Europe and European developments. Knoester-Cao also regularly advises and counsels these students in person during their introduction to international student life in Groningen. Without her inexhaustible energy and unique qualities, the Centre would never have been established and would certainly not be blossoming as it is now.

Groningen Confucius Institute

In 2009 the Chinese Embassy in The Hague requested the University of Groningen by to set up a Groningen Confucius Institute (GCI), and in the same year Knoester-Cao conducted preliminary negotiations with the Chinese government at the request of the Board of the University. The year 2010 saw the establishment of the GCI in its current form: a close collaboration between the Municipality, the University and Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen. Knoester-Cao was recommended as Director by the Board of the GCI, which opened its doors in January 2011 and has gone from strength to strength since then. Each year the GCI offers dozens of courses in Chinese language and culture to hundreds of students, from young children to pensioners. The high demand in China for the ‘Doing Business in the Netherlands’ course is particularly noteworthy, and the GCI also offers the Dutch business community various courses and support in a wide range of fields.

In 2017 the University of Groningen will be the first mainland European university to open a sister campus in China, in the city of Yantai, Shandong province. Knoester-Cao played an indispensible role in establishing contacts relating to the branch campus, advising the President of the Board of the University in all negotiations and helping to avoid misunderstandings and stumbling blocks. She will continue to play an important role in the future as an advisor to both the Board of the University and to the University of Groningen Yantai.

The Chinese Festival of Light

The Chinese Festival of Light held in Haren’s botanical gardens in 2011 was the first of its kind in Europe. It was a great and significant cultural event for the north of the Netherlands, a wonderful example of the combination of contemporary and traditional Chinese art. And it was all thanks to Knoester-Cao’s direct contacts with producers of such festivals, which are very popular in China, that this huge event came to the region. The festival was planned to mark Chinese New Year and attracted some 75,000 visitors to Haren.

Knoester- Cao helps students with practical information both before and after their arrival in Groningen, and also lends support to students who encounter problems, guiding them through the maze of new issues they have to deal with. She played an important role in the establishment of the Chinese student association in Groningen too. During her holidays, she also gives several lessons a year to primary and secondary school children in underdeveloped regions of China.

Xuefei Knoester-Cao has been appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Last modified:26 April 2016 11.34 a.m.
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