Students compete in Chinese competency
Updated: 2014-03-31 10:58
By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)
As scholars and academics continue efforts to encourage the study of China, Pace University, in Lower Manhattan, is trying an alternative tack to promote students' interest in the world's second-largest economy - by subsidizing the chance to study abroad.
Pace University's 5th Annual Chinese Bridge Eastern USA Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students gave 25 participants from a number of schools the opportunity to study in China, provided their mastery of the Chinese language and engagement with Chinese culture has stood out.
Carrie Buck - one of two finalists tagged to represent the New York regional this summer in Beijing, with the opportunity to win a full scholarship to study anywhere in China - said she is grateful for the teachers that encouraged her to join this event in the first place.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without having my teachers spur me along and have me participate in this competition," said Buck, a senior at Binghamton University. "This event is a very interesting way to immerse yourself in the culture, and not just the language. It also encourages you to get out and away from the classroom setting."
Buck, who is majoring in Chinese and Spanish, won the preliminary and secondary rounds of the Chinese Bridge Speaking Competition in 2012, which earned her the right to take classes at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing.
Weihua Niu, a director of the Confucius Institute (CI) at Pace, said this program has become one of the CI's highlights since it began in 2010.
"I truly enjoyed the whole event and I was just excited to listen to the speeches and the level of the language skills," Niu said Sunday. "This event really allows students to showcase how they can use their language skills to contribute to future experiences - so it's not a competition, it's a celebration."
The language exhibition, which took place on Sunday at Pace's Michael Schimmel Center For The Arts, is part of the 13th annual international Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition coordinated by Hanban, an organization dedicated to spreading knowledge of the Chinese language and culture.
The cultural bridge competition is hosted by Pace's CI in conjunction with support from the New York Service Center for Chinese Study Fellows Inc (NYSC) - a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to Sino-American exchange.
Malcolm Simms, a junior studying sociology at Montclair State University, said he started learning Chinese in high school, but before this program he "had never heard of a Chinese speaking competition".
"If learning Chinese - or any language - is your passion, go ahead and do it," Simms said. "Last summer I went to China and stayed in Shanghai for about five weeks, and I enjoyed it because I was used to a different kind of lifestyle."
"I had a phenomenal time and I definitely plan on going back, whether it's through competition, scholarship, savings," Simms added. "Being abroad gave me an opportunity to continue to meet people from different places and get a better grasp on my Chinese."
Min Zhu, Chinese director for the CI, said by offering participating students a chance to study in China, Pace is giving students an opportunity "that could change someone's life".
Buck, one of the events winners, added that another chance to earn money toward furthering her Chinese education would be a "huge help".
"I want to go into interpretation and first prize gets you a scholarship for a potential master's program in China," she said. "If I'm studying abroad and it's all paid for, that's a huge help."
From left, in foreground: Binghamton University student Carrie Buck is congratulated by Weihua Niu at Pace University's 5th Annual Chinese Bridge Eastern USA Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students on Sunday in New York. Buck is one of two finalists tagged to represent the New York regional this summer in Beijing, with the opportunity to win a full scholarship to study anywhere in China. Jack Freifelder / China Daily
(China Daily USA 03/31/2014 page2)