The Ninth “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Elementary and Secondary School Students Preliminary Contest took place in Tucson on April 17, hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona (CIUA). Six contestants, rigorously selected from local schools, took part in the competition. The competition was hosted by Yi Chen who is the Event Coordinator at CIUA, and was judged by Qiuhong Zhang, Jing Ouyang, and Na Li, who are Chinese language teachers affiliated with CIUA. The families of the contestants and Chen Ju, a Chinese language teacher from Basis Tucson Primary School, were present to observe the competition.
The competition was divided into elementary, intermediate and advanced groups. Contestants were required to demonstrate their Chinese language abilities, knowledge of Chinese culture and participate in a talent show relating to Chinese culture. This year, participants presented a speech on “Talk about my family,” all geared toward demonstrating students’ Chinese language proficiency as well as their knowledge of the country and enthusiasm for Chinese cultures. In the talent show, the young participants presented various skills including martial arts, Chinese songs and Chinese musical instruments.
The competition was dominated by BASIS Oro Valley Primary and BASIS Tucson Primary schools, where Chinese language teachers including Wen Yang and Chen Ju prepared their students extremely well before the contest. Following the one-hour competition, Autumn Wolf, a 4th grader from BASIS Oro Valley Primary, and Sophia Diponio, a 3rd grader from BASIS Tucson Primary were the group champions. Daniela Levy and Ashley Xu, both students at BASIS Tucson Primary school, won second place. Ethan Calhoun and Michael Wintory, both students enrolled at BASIS Oro Valley Primary school, took third place standings.
In a convivial atmosphere, teachers and parents enjoyed watching their students competently speaking a beautiful foreign language and cheered them on with their warm, encouraging applause. They became excited about their students working hard to achieve a goal that they are genuinely enthusiastic about. Teacher Qiuhong Zhang commended: “the American children speak Chinese language very well”! One parent was attracted by Ashely Xu’s guzheng performance and curiously inquired where she learned to play this traditional Chinese musical instrument. When she learned that CIUA provides guzheng instruction, she said she would bring her child to learn Chinese music in the future. When the competition ended, the audience, participants and judges took a group photo to preserve the memory of this happy moment! The parents expressed their gratitude to the teachers and staff from CIUA. They said: “This activity was so successful and we really enjoyed it! This will encourage children to learn Chinese even more.”
This competition manifests the atmosphere of Chinese language learning in Tucson which is related to the contributions of Chinese language promotion stemming from CIUA.