On the 21st of April 2012, the cream of Ireland’s Chinese speaking Irish university students gathered at the Gresham Hotel, Dublin to compete in the Irish finals of the International Chinese Bridge Competition and battle it out for a chance to represent Ireland in the World Finals in China this summer.
This is the 3rd year the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland have organised the Irish finals, and the numbers are growing rapidly every year. The venue was thronged with an excited crowd of Irish and Chinese who had gathered to see the talent on show. The Charges D’ Affairs for the Chinese Embassy Ms. Lan Heping, the Second Secretary of the Chinese Embassy Mr. Wu Xiaochuang, students from all the universities involved, student’s parents, representatives from the Irish Chinese community and representatives from many areas of Irish society attended this key event. Everyone in attendance was engrossed in the marvellous performances, and in the end 6 students from various Irish universities took home the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes.
The audience were delighted to see that the competition is improving year on year- each one more interesting, carefully planned out, of higher quality and on a larger scale than the last. The contestants’ standard of pronunciation, fluency of expression, sense of humour, creativity and sincerity won bursts of applause from the audience. UCD B.Comm with International (Chinese) Studies student May Wong has a real passion for Chinese, and claimed third prize in the event with her clear pronunciation and delightful Chinese paintings of Giant Pandas. She said “It was a great experience; I really enjoyed taking part in the competition as I got to meet people with similar interest in Chinese language and culture from all over Ireland, and improve my language skills in the process!”
During the talent show section of the competition, the contestants performed an array of Chinese themed skills: Chinese poem reading, Chinese tongue-twisters, Chinese songs, stories of Chinese idioms, and beautiful calligraphy among others. 2nd year DIT student Chris Walshe movingly recited a Chinese translation of a W.B. Yeats poem he had learnt by heart; DIT student Paul Mc Manus gave a very creative display of the melding of sporting traditions such as hurling and Kung Fu; there was some beautiful Chinese singing from Philippa Hood, Rory O’Neill and Simon Clarke and many more.
After the final result was revealed the Chinese ambassador’s representative Ms. Lan Heping came forth to present the first prize to the winner. After the presentation, she gave a short speech, congratulating the contestants on their outstanding achievements, and congratulating the organisers on the hugely successful event. She said educational and cultural exchanges between our two countries are growing stronger every day. She went on to emphasise that events like this are very positive for people to people relations and mutual learning and understanding between our two peoples. The overall winner, Simon Clarke from DIT, when asked how he felt after he learnt that he has the honour of representing Ireland in the World Finals in China later this summer, answered in fluent Chinese “Gaoxing de bu de liao- I’m incredibly happy!”
RTE Six-One main evening news presented a special news report on the event, outlining the significant increase in numbers attending the event and the talent on show, including interviews with a number of contestants and the Changes D’ Affairs of the Chinese Embassy Ms. Lan Heping.