A global lesson in reaching out to make a world of difference
Confucius, the ancient Chinese teacher and philosopher, was renowned for many things, including extensive travels during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). It is little wonder that those affiliated with the institutes that have taken his name are similarly itinerant.
Related: Confucius in the 21st century
While Confucius preached moral codes and ways of governance, the Confucius Institutes help people break language barriers to better know each other - a mission that necessitates a great deal of travel.
One of the most noteworthy instances of this was an excursion to Japan in October. Relations between China and Japan have been festering following tensions over the Diaoyu Islands, a cluster of islets in the East China Sea.
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of Tokyo-bound trips had been cancelled, but not for the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, which sent a vice-director to the Japanese capital to meet teachers and volunteers from the Confucius Institutes in Japan.
"You wouldn't believe it - there were only six people flying on a big plane to Japan that day," said Xu Lin, director-general of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, known as Hanban.
"The more two countries' ties deteriorate over political issues, the more important it is for Confucius Institutes to play a role in helping preserve and strengthen the rapport between the people of the two nations," Xu said.