University hosts Chinese Bridge Competition

May 13 / 110

Winners Rowan Watson (Latrobe), Alistair Bayley (Monash), and Jessica Wagstaff (Melbourne).
Winners Rowan Watson (Latrobe), Alistair Bayley (Monash), and Jessica Wagstaff (Melbourne).

The University has hosted the Confucius Institute’s 12th annual Chinese Bridge competition.

The Chinese Bridge competition is a language proficiency contest for non-Chinese students organised by the Office of the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Competitors are required to perform a written test, a short speech in Mandarin and a Chinese cultural performance, before a panel of judges.

Students Jessica Wagstaff and Claudia Martin both represented the University. Ms Wagstaff, who came second, will travel to Beijing later in the year to compete in the International Hanban finals, which will be broadcast on Hunan TV.

The Chinese Consul General, Shi Weiqiang, joined Dr Gao Jia, Acting Director of the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies and Professor Simon Evans, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) to present the prizes at the competition.

Professor Evans said developing students' Chinese language skills and cultural knowledge was a priority for the University and the whole Australian education sector in the new Asian Century.

Ms Wagstaff is a Bachelor of Science student who has been learning Chinese for seven-and-a-half years.

She said learning a second language was compulsory at her high school, but even after a study trip to China in year 11 she wasn’t sure she would continue in year 12, but changed her mind after entering a Chinese Bridge competition.

“I was asked to enter the Chinese Bridge competition for high school students in Year 11, and with no expectations of placing, I came third and won a trip to China as a spectator of the finals,” she said.

“This gave me the courage to apply for a scholarship to study Chinese in China so I took a gap year and moved to Beijing, and I had the time of my life.”

Ms Julia Gong, Director of the Confucius Institute said the global competitions have become a foundation for Chinese language programs.

“Interest in learning Chinese is at an all-time high, and I am always impressed by the calibre of young Australians entering the University Chinese Bridge Competition,” she said.

Ms Wagstaff said she continues to learn and practice Chinese language because she really enjoys it, rather than as a strategic career option, but she could see the benefits it would have.

“China is becoming more important on a world scale and I'm sure that Chinese will help in some way for any career path,” she said.

 “My goal is to study Medicine, so whether it is having Chinese patients in Melbourne, or possibly working as a health professional for expats in China I’m sure it will be really useful.”

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