ST. CLOUD -- With the guidance of St. Cloud State University, Chinese sign language, history and culture are being incorporated in more communities throughout the state.

St. Cloud State's Confucius Institute recently made it's seventh partnership with Metro Deaf School in St. Paul to expand opportunities for students, faculty and the community to learn more about Chinese culture, history and sign language.

Metro Deaf School was recently awarded a five-year, $10,000 yearly grant from National Hanban to promote Chinese immersion programs.

Director of SCSU's Confucius Institute, Kathy Johnson says she encouraged Metro Deaf School to apply for the grant.

"I did the outreach to the Metro Deaf School, invited them to apply for a grant for 'Confucius Classroom' to promote Chinese sign language and the inclusion and engagement of people with disabilities to our international partnerships."

The "Confucius Classroom" is the title of the grant but programs the grant can be used for can include classes, events and other initiatives focused on Chinese immersion.

Johnson says Chinese immersion programs help students become global leaders.

"It's an opportunity to learn and expand your career options, not only in Chinese but working in international business, non-profit organizations. Language competencies can get you into the world bank, UNESCO, or United Nations organizations."

Metro Deaf School is one of seven programs in the area. St. Cloud State also partners with the St. Cloud School District, Sauk Rapids-Rice School District, Lakes International Language Academy in Forrest Lake, St. Michael-Albertville High School, Cathedral High School and West Fargo Public School to provide Chinese immersion programs.