Brazil names winners for 'Bridge' finals
Updated: 2014-05-26 03:06
By ZHANG FAN in Sao Paulo (China Daily Latin America)
"I am really interested in Chinese culture and history, I have studied Chinese for a long time and want to improve it further," said Monica Cunha da Silva, the winner of the preliminary competition of the 13th Chinese-Bridge Competition Brazil, held at the Confucius Institute at the State University of Sao Paulo on Sunday.
Silva, 18, has lived in China for a while and learned traditional Chinese dance during her stay. She will go to China in July to compete with other regional winners for the championship.
"I am very excited to have this opportunity to compete in the finals representing Brazil," said Silva, from the Confucius Institute at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. "I am very good at speaking and reading and also communicating, so I think I will have a good score if I’m well prepared."
"This is the fifth Chinese-Bridge in Brazil and I can see an obvious improvement of our participants' Chinese language ability," said Zheng Kejun, the cultural counselor of the Chinese Embassy to Brazil, at the closing ceremony on Sunday.
"There are more and more Brazilians interested in learning Chinese in recent years. We have established seven Confucius Institutes in Brazil and have been dedicated to improving the quality of teaching," Zheng said.
There are 11 competitors participating in today's preliminary competition, ranging from university students to employees of local companies. "The diversity shows that our Chinese language education can actually arouse interest among the community, not only students, and local people are more involved in learning this language," he added.
The preliminary competition of the 13th Chinese-Bridge Competition in Brazil is very meaningful because this year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China-Brazil relations, said Wang Feng, deputy consul general of the Chinese Consulate-General in Sao Paulo.
The Chinese-Bridge Language Proficiency Competition is an annual international competition held by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) to encourage more foreign students to learn Chinese language and culture.
The first Chinese-Bridge Competition worldwide was held in 2002. By the end of 2013, more than 300,000 university students from more than 80 countries participated in the competition with 1,000 winning tickets to China for the finals.
The competition involves four parts: speech, answering questions, reading and a talent show. Participants need to first take part in the preliminary contest in their countries and win tickets to China for the finals. The winner gets a scholarship from the Confucius Institution for further Chinese language studies.
To guarantee fairness, Chinese-Bridge sets strict rules on participants' age and nationality, requiring each participant to be between 18 and 30 years old, with foreign nationalities, born and raised in foreign countries and their mother tongue cannot be Chinese.
"I was first attracted to Chinese culture because of the martial arts," said Pedro Menezes Freitas, a participant from the Confucius Institute at the State University of Sao Paulo.
Freitas said during the contest that he likes Chinese history very much and is now working at a history website. "I am happy about it because I can use my knowledge of Chinese culture in my work," he said.
"I am especially interested in Chinese cuisine. I used to need to understand Chinese recipes by translating them into English, but now I can read the original versions," said Clara Valenca Ferreira de Aragao, a participant from the Confucius Institute at the University of Brasilia.
Ruan Lihua, the Chinese director of the Confucius Institute at the State University of Sao Paulo, said the Chinese-Bridge Competition is getting more and more welcomed by Brazilians because it serves as a platform for competitors to show their talents and express their ideas.
"The teachers at the Confucius Institute not only taught me about Chinese language but helped me understand the spirit of Chinese culture through their sincerity and hard-work," said Henrique Melo Fernandes from the Confucius Institute at the State University of Sao Paulo.
Monica Cunha da Silva, the winner of the preliminary competition of the 13th Chinese-Bridge Competition in Brazil and Luis Antonio Paulino, the Brazilian director of the Confucius Institute at the UNESP in Sao Paulo, at the closing ceremony of the competition. Zhang Fan / China Daily