On the 26th of March 2011, UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland successfully held the Irish final of the 10th Chinese Bridge Competition for world college students. The event was attended by more than a hundred people, including the Chinese ambassador to Ireland Mr. Liu Biwei, the First Secretary of the Chinese embassy Prof. Dong Huiqing, student representatives from the Confucius Classroom, student’s parents, representatives from the Irish Chinese community and representatives from many areas of Irish society. 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 being improved 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 and sincerity won bursts of applause from the audience. UCD B.Comm with Chinese Studies student Fiachra Mullen has a real passion for Chinese, and after only studying Chinese for a year decided to use his summer holidays to travel to Beijing to improve his Chinese language skills. During his speech, he jokingly referred to his bittersweet experience learning Chinese: “My relationship with Chinese is the same as that between myself and my girlfriend- I really love her, but I can’t control her!”
Tricia Kehoe from UCC used her mellifluous Chinese to describe her experience climbing the Great Wall of China five years ago. She gasped in admiration at the majesty of the Great Wall, was filled by the vicissitudes of history and experienced the intellect and unbending spirit of the Chinese people. While travelling along the Great Wall she encountered a group of young students playing football, and this reminded her of the vitality and energy that has shone forth from ancient China.
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. 4th year UCD student Daniel Sellers recited a romantic Chinese poem he can written himself; DIT student Matthew Hanlon vividly recited a famous Chinese idiom about blessings in disguise; UCC student Trisha Kehoe performed ‘seal character’ calligraphy, writing the first three characters from the phrase ‘As heaven maintains vigour through movements, one should constantly strive for self-improvement’, which is taken from the classic Chinese ‘Book of Changes’. She explained after completing the calligraphy that she had a special appreciation for this phrase, that it has been a mantra for her in her studies and she wished to share it with the audience. The audience were bowled over by the amazing performances from all the contestants and cheered and applauded throughout the day.
After the final result was revealed the Chinese ambassador Mr. Liu Biwei came forth to present the first prize to the winner. After the presentation, the ambassador gave a short speech, congratulating the contestants on their outstanding achievements, and congratulating the organisers on the hugely successful event. He said that since diplomatic relations had been established in 1979, China and Ireland had always maintained excellent diplomatic and economic ties, and trade between the two countries has increased by a staggering multiple of over 1300, and educational and cultural exchanges are growing stronger every day. His Excellency wishes that the peoples from both Ireland and China make a commitment to studying each other’s languages, and strengthening the friendly ties and cooperation between the two countries.
The excited crowd lingered long after the competition had ended, and commented that “This kind of competition gives us an insight into the charm of Chinese and lets us share the delights of studying Chinese”. The Irish student representatives said “Even though studying Chinese is difficult, after seeing these performances and hearing how good their Chinese was, we have much more confidence now.”