The Irish Final of 16th International Chinese Bridge Competition for College Students took place in the Double Tree Hilton Morrison Hotel on April 22nd 2017. The event was organized by the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland and co-hosted by the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland and UCD Irish Institute for Chinese Studies. Around 30 candidates from UCD, UCC, Trinity College, DIT, NUI Maynooth etc. participated in the Competition. The event was attended by distinguished guests from the Chinese Embassy in Ireland including the Chinese Ambassador H.E. Dr. Yue Xiaoyong, Deputy Head of Mission and Political Counsellor Mrs Yang Hua, First Secretary of the Education Section Professor Wu Xiaochuang, Head of the Political and Press Office Mr. Pan Xiongwen. Among attendees were UCD Vice President Prof. Dolores O’Riordan, Directors and Chinese Directors of the UCD Confucius Institute and UCC Confucius Institute as well as local Chinese media representatives.
The competition was divided into preliminary and final rounds. 8 successful candidates got into the final round after a keen competition in the morning. At the end of full day fierce competition, William Lonergan won 1st place, Tolawo Salam and Carola Ludovica took up 2nd places, Karen Mitchell, Kinga Asztalos and Madison Lane won 3rd places, along with Kinga Asztalos and William Lonergan winning the talent awards.
Contestants left no stone unturned at the Chinese speech part. Their enthusiastic performance drew rapturous applause. For instance, John Caffrey’s experience in a Beijing taxi told in his humorous Chinese made the audience laugh; William Lonergan, in traditional Chinese outfit, told how he fell in love with China, while Tolawo Slam shared her story of Chinese learning and Chinese dream. Trendy Chinese expressions such as lei si bao bao le (I’m exhausted), wo de zhong guo meng (my Chinese dream), chi huo (foodie) were frequently used in their speeches which impressed the audience immensely.
At the talent show part, Karen Mitchell read a famous Chinese poem -- Farewell to Cambridge with accompanying music, while talk show genius William Lonergan interpreted the definitions of Chinese words for anger, fury, craziness and awkwardness; Kinga Asztalos’ elegant traditional Chinese dance highlighted the whole event.
After the awards ceremony, UCD Vice President Prof. Dolores O’Riordan congratulated the winners on their excellent performance and encouraged all contestants to act as goodwill ambassadors for Sino-Irish exchanges. Chinese Ambassador H.E. Dr. Yue Xiaoyong said in his remarks that language is a vehicle for cultural exchange and the bridge of mutual understanding. He stressed that the Chinese Bridge Competition provides an excellent platform for young learners and college students to exhibit their Chinese language skills and talents, therefore the Chinese Bridge is really a cultural bridge for Sino-Irish friendship. The Chinese Ambassador was delighted that the Irish Department of Education and Skills has included Mandarin as a Leaving Cert Curriculum subject in its 10-year strategic plan. This is a landmark of the development of the China-Ireland relations. At the end of his speech the Ambassador expressed his gratitude to the staff of the two Confucius Institutes as well as those dedicated to the teaching of Chinese language and culture in Ireland. As the China-Ireland friendship deepens, the Ambassador looks forward to a more prosperous future for both countries through concerted efforts of the two peoples.