On April 4, the 14th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students Preliminary Contest in the Southwest U.S. concluded. The competition was sponsored by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles and organized and hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona (CIUA). Eleven contestants carefully selected from CIUA and four other Confucius Institutes took part in the competition. Education Consul Dr. Weiheng Chen from the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles attended to congratulate and watched the competition with nearly a hundred audience members.
To commemorate “the 70th anniversary of the Second World War," the competition started by initiating a "peace-loving, flying dove of peace" signature wall by enthusiastic contestants and audience members and a memorable rendition of "Precious Harmony" by CIUA musician, Mr. Bo Chen playing the traditional Chinese music instrument, Sheng.
The competition was divided into intermediate and advanced groups and contestants were required to demonstrate their Chinese language ability, knowledge of Chinese history and geography and participate in a talent show relating to Chinese culture. This year, participants presented a speech with the theme, "My Chinese Dream," and demonstrated their Chinese language proficiency, knowledge of the country and enthusiasm for Chinese cultures.
Anning Kong (Anthony Costantini) and Ruian Meng (Ryan McCloskey) from Arizona State University were the intermediate and senior level champions, respectively. The judges also selected the best China-related knowledge award, best speaker award and best talent award among the students and the best organization award among the participating Confucius Institutes.
What was most exciting was the wonderful performances of the contestants: Jinghua Meng (Cortland Montefiore) from the University of Arizona said, “…I love China; I want to go to China,” and he spoke of the excitement of traveling to China with tears in his eyes. Jiahao Xiang (Charles Herndon) from UCLA said that traditional Chinese medicine saved two lives in his family. It healed his father of hepatitis and his own lupus, which inspired him to learn Chinese language and share the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine with a global audience, stimulating pride with many of the audience’s Chinese members. Zhikai Shen (Conner Gustafson) from the University of Southern California described himself as a descendant of several mixed generations of Chinese and focused on the affirming self-identity spurred by his studies of Chinese. Shiwei Ya (Olivia Steiger) from the University of Hawaii presented an erhu solo, "Jasmine," which made the audience cheer.
In a convivial atmosphere, Consul Chen and the CIUA directors presented awards to all winners. Consul Chen, who has participated as a judge in the Chinese Bridge competition twice was pleased to say that in this year's American Southwest Division of the competition, the number of contestants and the level of their Chinese language and cultural knowledge was significantly improved from last year. From this, it is apparent that Confucius Institute Chinese language and culture teaching is achieving its goals.