On April 30 th , the 15th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for College Students Preliminar Contest in the Southwest US, organized by the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles (CGLA) and hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona (CIUA) was held on the UA campus in Tucson, Arizona. Five Confucius Institutes in the Southwest United States carefully selected 13 participants for the competition. Chinese Education Consul, Ms. Haiying Chai from the CGLA served as one of the judges and an audience of nearly a hundred Chinese fans watched the contest.
The competition was kicked off by Confucius Institute teacher, Mr. Ma Maoxun and Mr. Jiangpei Feng’s erhu and Tai Chi performances. CIUA co-director Dr. Zhao Chen and Consul Haiying Chai each provided welcoming remarks. Consul Chai said that Chinese is the window to understanding Chinese culture and the Chinese people, and that learning Chinese language yielded many opportunities for self-development. She encouraged every participant to make outstanding achievements in the contest.
The competition was divided into intermediate and advanced groups. Contestants demonstrated their Chinese language ability and knowledge of China’s national conditions and cultures and participated in an individual Chinese culture-related talent show. Competitors presented speeches based on the theme of this year’s contest, “Dreams Enlighten the Future,” demonstrating their level of Chinese competence through answering questions posed by the judges, quizzes talent shows, etc., all expressing their love for China and appreciation of Chinese culture.
In her monologue, “Chinese Daughter in Law,” Lei Yaming (Jazmine Song) spoke passionately about her integration into Chinese culture and family, remarking that, “Chinese parents are probably the best in the world and they really love and care for their children.” Kong Jiexin (Jessica Gonzalez) who had served as a soldier in the United States Army for five years and is now studying journalism and Chinese at the University of Arizona, dreams of traveling thousands of mile to and within China and starting her own travel blog record recording her views of China. An Dongni (Anthony Burtman) from the East Asian Studies Department at the University of Arizona impressed all with his observation that, “A teacher from CIUA told me that Chinese people pay attention to refinement, vital essence and God, but I think we also need to dream.” His standard pronunciation and authentic Chinese syntax won all the judges’ commendation. More amazingly, in the talent show, Xiao An demonstrated his exceptional erhu talent by playing “Little Floral Drum,” which he learned under the tutelage of Mr. Ma Maoxun at CIUA. One contestant from UCLA, Wen Meiqing (Brooke Wenig) likes drinking Chinese tea; her own understanding of and feelings about China being similar to making the transition “from Longjing to Pu'er;” from superficiality to her present deep attachment; from only knowing what to knowing why with a correspondingly deeper knowledge of China. “From many perspectives, near and far, and on different levels, no culture in this world is perfect; people need to understand and integrate their experiences of many different cultures.” In response to one judge who asked who her favorite Chinese philosopher is, Xiao Wen said, “Mencius’s observations of human nature impressed me. He says that people are born good and that it was society and its lack of a positive cultivating influence that caused bad moral character; I find it very inspiring.”
After more than three hours of intense competition, Wen Meiqing (Brooke Wenig) and An Dongni (Anthony Burtman) were respectively acknowledged as the Advanced and Intermediate Champions. In this convivial atmosphere, Consul Chai and CIUA’s co-directors presented awards to all the winners. “I am pleased to see more and more American students learning Chinese. They like Chinese culture and today’s contestants displayed a high level of Chinese competence,” Consul Chai remarked excitedly.
Compared 2015, this year’s contestants, including the number of applicants, their Chinese language skills and levels of cultural knowledge were all improved significantly, allowing us to see the achievements that the Confucius Institute Chinese language and culture teaching program has made.