The 9th World Chinese Bridge Secondary School Students Chinese Proficiency Competition for Ireland was held in Cork and hosted by the UCC Confucius Institute for Ireland and UCC School of Asian Studies on the 27th of February 2016. A total of 78 secondary school students from Dublin, Cork, Galway and other regions participated in the competition. Invited guests at the competition include Chris O’Leary, Lord Mayor of Cork, Xiaochuang Wu, First Secretary of the Education Division of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland, Fei Huang, First Secretary of the Culture Division of the Chinese Embassy, Jakie Sheehan, Head of the School of Asian Studies of UCC as well as the Chinese directors of the two Confucius Institutes in Ireland.
After three rounds namely, individual speeches, talent shows and Chinese culture quiz, the finalists competed for one 1st prize, two 2nd prizes and three 3rd prizes. The top four winners will represent Ireland to participate in the World Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Secondary School Students which takes place in China. Out of the fourteen contestants from UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland two won 2nd prizes and two won 3rd prizes, and two students gave an exceptional performance: Caoileann Ni Cheallaigh summarised her 9-month experience in China in Kuaiban, a unique and humorous traditional Chinese oral storytelling form; she amazed the audience with a Chinese song You Exist In my Song which she sang with accurate pronunciation and perfect interpretation. Another UCD CII candidate Zhiming Lei focused on the Chinese Spring Festival as the topic of his speech. He said, ’I prefer the Spring Festival to Christmas, because children usually throw away the presents they don’t like from Christmas, but with the hongbao (red envelope) they get on Spring Festival they can go and buy anything they like.’ His innocent and humorous speech won him thunderous applause.
Mr O’Leary remarked that since the twinning of Cork and Shanghai in 2002, the economic and cultural exchange between the two cities has increased, which makes learning Chinese language and culture all the more important in Ireland. Mr Xiaochuang Wu said that both China and Ireland share a long history and culture of which language acts as the media, so learning the Chinese language is important in helping to understand the Chinese history and culture. He also believed that the annual Chinese Bridge Competition provides a great opportunity for young people to meet Chinese language learners of like mind.