LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 28, 2020) — The University of Kentucky Confucius Institute (UKCI) was recognized Sept. 19 by the Kentucky World Language Association (KWLA) for its translation work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sara Meredith, immediate past president of KWLA, announced Gov. Andy Beshear’s #TeamKentucky Language Access Team, which includes UKCI’s Translation Team, as winners of the 2020 Amici Linguarum (Friends of Languages) Award during KWLA’s live awards ceremony.
“They are working to build a Kentucky where every resident, new or lifelong, feels welcome, at home, empowered, and included,” Meredith said, reading the nomination letter.
The honor recognizes an individual or organization not directly involved in teaching world languages that contributed to the profession.
Gov. Beshear and his communications team created the Language Access Team to provide the public with access to official communications in their language, thus saving lives, protecting people’s health, and minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and schools.
In partnership with RADIOLEX, Gov. Beshear’s office began providing translated summaries of every press conference and detailed informational flyers in more than 20 languages. UKCI’s Translation Team, Huajing Maske, executive director of UKCI and the Office of China Initiatives, Shasha Wu, Guilin Zhang and Lei Zhao, contributed to this mass effort.
Since March, UKCI’s Translation Team has continued to provide daily case information updates, audio summaries and public service announcements at teamkentuckytranslations.com.
“For the past six months, you have made sure every Kentuckian hears life-saving public health guidance,” Beshear said, addressing the Language Access Team’s translators in a pre-recorded video during the live awards ceremony. “You’ve donated hundreds of hours to protect your neighbors from COVID-19, sometimes working in the middle of the night or before the sun comes up so we can share information as quickly as possible. You are helping our people heal and rebuild.
“Most importantly, you’ve made sure that every person in our Commonwealth knows they are a part of Team Kentucky and that we will get through this together.”
This year marks the third KWLA award for UKCI.
UKCI’s K-12 Coordinator Carrie Wheeler won a KWLA award last year, receiving the 2019 Outstanding Administrator Award, which honors a school administrator who has “demonstrated exemplary support of world language learning and teaching at his/her institution, community or in the state.”
Maske received the Amici Linguarum (Friend of Languages) Award in 2014 for her work positioning UKCI as a leader in serving Kentucky and the Commonwealth’s global competency efforts.
The mission of the UK Confucius Institute is to serve the university and to serve Kentucky. These awards are a testament to UKCI’s work in community engagement, which is an important component of the university’s land-grant mission.
Since its inauguration, the institute has positioned itself as a conduit of UK’s China initiatives and created many successful partnerships between colleges at UK and Chinese universities. As noted above, the UK Confucius Institute has also played a valuable role in Kentucky’s K-12 Chinese language and cultural education.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.