The Chinese Bridge Language Competition is an exciting event held in many places around the world that many students of Chinese language look forward to. On April 12, 2014, the Confucius Institute at Maryland hosted the 13th annual regional Chinese Bridge Language Competition, “My Chinese Dream,” where 10 outstanding students of Chinese language from six universities in six states, including Washington, DC, competed for the chance to go on to China for the next stages of global competition. These young people, four of whom came from as far away as Utah and South Carolina, shared their thoughts about learning from living in China, having fun with Chinese language and culture, making friends, building bridges, and about a life experience that touches them deeply. These non-native speakers of Chinese have had wonderful opportunities with Chinese language and culture, and many of them want to go on to professions in which they can use their Chinese for the benefit of our global community.
The contestants gave prepared speeches related to the general topic of “My Chinese Dream;” answered four questions about Chinese history, language, and culture; and presented a cultural performance of song, dance, or other traditional art form. This year’s competition winner was Brigham Young University’s Patrick Badger, who hopes to combine the best of Chinese and western medicine to help people in need in Asia. His speech, “Falling in Love with China,” exhibited thoughtful content and beautiful, accurate fluency. Two students from the University of Maryland also participated: Andrew Toney spoke about the importance of cultural awareness in communication, and presented a humorous skit about different accents and the hilarious confusion they can cause. Emily Cheung gave a very compelling reflection about her China story, and sang a lovely traditional Chinese melody.
Emcees for the event included last year’s Regional Winner, Damien Liles, who is now working in a translation service with Chinese materials, and Liangzi Zhang, a grad student in the Center for Chinese Language Teacher Certification and Development. Joseph Scholten, Associate Director of the Office of International Affairs, gave a warm welcome to the audience, adding that his own daughter had enjoyed competing several years ago and is now furthering her studies in Chinese.
This year’s outstanding performances included Patrick Badger’s recitation of a fast-paced rhyming poem accompanied by clicking bamboo clappers, and an incredibly skillful Chinese yoyo demonstration that had everyone gasping in amazement, presented by second place winner Matthew Werth from the University of Delaware. Sharing second place with Werth was George Washington University’s Mark Schaefer, who gave a talk about transforming misunderstandings and eliminating prejudices. Isn’t this what language learning is all about? Congratulations to all the participants!