Recently, Xiamen University has received a letter from San Diego, USA, which is written by Charles Sevilla, a friend of Mr. John Cleary’s, and former partner of his law firm. Mr. John Cleary was an outstanding representative of the Confucius Institute in San Diego and outstanding alumnus of Xiamen University. The 84-year-old John Cleary accidentally fell down while riding a bicycle and later passed away at home. Before his death, he entrusted his friend to donate part of his pension assets in the fund company to Xiamen University. Charles Sevilla sent the letter to Xiamen University through the Confucius Institute in San Diego, informing Xiamen University that it should get in touch with relevant institutions for this matter.
President of Xiamen University, Zhang Rong, has sent a letter to Charles Sevilla, expressing his deep condolences, and sincere gratitude to John Cleary for his care about Xiamen University and such a generous donation even at the end of his life. President Zhang appreciated John Cleary's commitment to promoting exchanges and mutual learning between the youth of the United States and China, and expressed his high respect for John Cleary's kindness, dedication, and noble character throughout his life.
Cleary was a law professor who retired from San Diego State University years ago. He used to serve in the U.S. Airborne Forces. After being retired from military service, he became a defender of the Federal Court, providing legal aid to the needy and proved to be a very prestigious lawyer in the local legal circle. After his retirement, he dedicated all his energy to education, cultural exchange and language study, and as a result, Cleary became very attached to the Confucius Institute in San Diego, which was co-built by Xiamen University. Cleary loved Chinese culture and strongly supported the development of the Confucius Institute. He not only offered his volunteer service to the Confucius Institute as legal adviser, but also donated personally and raised donations for the Confucius Institute from time to time. He enthusiastically supported the Confucius Institute in many ways, and became an outstanding representative of the Alumni Association of Confucius Institute in San Diego.
John Cleary was also an outstanding alumnus of Xiamen University. In 2011, out of a strong desire to learn Chinese, advised by Liu Lirong, the director of the Confucius Institute in San Diego, Cleary came to Xiamen University to study Chinese and became the oldest student at Xiamen University’s Overseas Education College. He spent three years studying here. He was willing to help and actively involved in the promotion of friendly exchanges between Xiamen University and American universities. Since 2013, he overcame a lot of difficulties and provided funds to advocate and organize summer exchange programs for U.S. and Chinese students. He successfully held the Chinese Criminal Law Summer Vacation Seminar at Xiamen University for many times, and actively organized Xiamen University students to participate in tuition-free practical study tours in the United States. Through this program, young students from the United States and China went to each other's country to promote mutual understanding, especially to help more young Americans get to know the modern and real China.
In Cleary’s eyes, Xiamen University is an open and inclusive institution. It has helped an elderly person realize his dream of learning Chinese and promoted the exchange and mutual learning of young people in the world. Although he had traveled through many countries and taught in many universities, Xiamen University had always occupied a unique position in his mind. In December 2019, when Yang Bin,Vice President of Xiamen University, led a delegation to visit San Diego State University and Global Knowledge University, Cleary accompanied them all the way and acted as a guide. He warmly shared his recent trip to Xiamen and the preparations for the US-China Summer Exchange Program in 2020. He fondly recalled the good time he spent studying at Xiamen University, his indissoluble bond with Xiamen University, the original intention of holding the US-China Exchange Programs and the achievements. Cleary never forgot to practice Chinese at the same time, insisting on communicating and exchanging information with the delegation in Chinese, seizing every opportunity to improve his expression and thinking in Chinese. Although he suffered from a leg ailment, he was actively involved in the preparation, contact and arrangement of each activity, and he worked tirelessly to lead the delegation to different venues. His optimistic and positive spirit, his deep friendship with Xiamen University, and his tireless pursuit of his ideal deeply touched every member of the delegation.
John hoped that the whole world would become harmonious, just like his Chinese name "Datong". It means that the people of all countries respect and understand different cultures and political systems through communication and learning, so that the world would become more harmonious, which is why he spared no effort to promote the educational and cultural exchange between the two universities and the two countries. With a common ideal of seeking common ground while reserving differences and multi-cultural integration, he helped build a cross-cultural and transoceanic bridge and became the ambassador of the US-China educational and cultural exchange. As he said in the special documentary "Ming Datong's Summer Plan" produced by Shanxi Radio and TV Station, "I firmly believe in the connotation of my Chinese name “Datong”, which means the people of all countries in the world are the same, and their sameness is greater than their difference. My goal is to let more people go out from their own countries and take a look at other countries. This cause has brought me more joy than anything else. "
(Picture / text Southern Base of Confucius Institute Headquarters / Office of Confucius Institute Affairs, Office of International Cooperation and Exchange of Xiamen University, Confucius Institute in San Diego)