Let me tell you about a project I've been involved with in recent weeks.
As most of you know I’m Irish. You may also know that that country has been hit very hard by the global economic recession. In response, the Irish government hopes to develop a ‘smart economy’ and is encouraging people to learn new things. A good move, I think.
They’ve also invited myself to participate in the Global Economic Forum in Dublin in mid-September, where members of the Irish ‘diaspora’ will meet to see if there are things we could do to help. During pre-discussions I floated the idea of free basic access to ChinesePod to people in Ireland who might be interested. The response from both the Irish and Chinese sides was overwhelming: “Yes. Do it. Make it happen.” It’s also notable that 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of Sino-Irish Diplomatic Relations.
So, from tomorrow, September 1st, we will launch the ChinesePod Learn Chinese in Ireland initiative. We will offer basic access to ChinesePod, free of charge, to residents of Ireland until 1st May 2010, when the Shanghai World EXPO opens. I’m glad to say that both Declan Kelleher, the Irish Ambassador to China, as well as Xu Lin, Director of Hanban (the executive body behind Confucius Institutes) have offered great support for the initiative.
I have no idea what the response in Ireland will be. I guess it depends on whether the press picks up on the story or not. Chinese isn’t exactly a priority language in the country right now but I think it's timely to raise the profile of Mandarin study there. I expect a few hundred people to sign up and actually use basic the service. I believe the infrastructure will handle it without a problem.
Either way, our absolute priority is to ensure that we do not inconvenience you, our loyal customers and learners. We are still focused on upgrading the service according to your wishes - adding the Exercises last month, for example, and adding access to a Skritter version this month for premium users. Either way we will monitor closely how things evolve over the next few days. I'll keep you posted.
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