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UJ Confucius Institute students dominate at National Bridge Competition

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Confucius Institute (CI)’s students namely Ms Faith Marufu, Ms Shannon Bennett, Ms Isle Smit, Ms Vumile Thenjekwayo and Ms Hlengiwe Gumede were star performers in this year’s national Bridge Competition, which was the 17th installment of the Chinese language proficiency competition. The Bridge Competition took place at Rhodes University and attracted participation from various higher education institutions in South Africa with Confucius Institute.

UJ Confucius Institute team walked away with first prize and second prize in the competition, along with a slew of other prizes that made them win half of all the prizes given away in the talent-filled competition, which drew participation from 8 other universities in the country, including the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Cape Town.

The aim behind the formation of the bridge competition some two decades ago was to create a platform for South African students to learn Mandarin and to demonstrate their understanding of the language, as well as their knowledge of Chinese history, culture and geography amongst others. As such, the competitions are split into three sections, including a paper test, a speech test and a talent show in which the students, in a short space of time, must perfectly execute their newly gained expertise on all things Chinese better than their counterparts do.

Where to from here for these achievers? Since the competition forms a part of a global championship, the first prize-winner Ms Hlengiwe Gumede will now go to Beijing, China, to compete with dozens other winners representing their countries. Her proud teammates will also get to cheer her on, as they will get a chance to be spectators in the international finals.

UJCI Co-Directors, Dr David Monyae and Professor Peng Yi expressed their pride in the students and the UJ Mandarin teaching staff. “We are immensely proud of our excellent students. They have kept the UJCI banner flying high,” said Dr Monyae, alluding to the fact that the first prize-winner of the 2017 competition was also a UJCI student. Prof Peng also congratulated the teachers, Michele Liu and Sun Wei, stating that this is their victory as much as it is the students.

UJCI will also be sending 29 of its students to China this June as part of its Summer Camp programme meant to foster not just a book understanding of China, but also a physical sense and mingling with the actual country and its people.

Dr Monyae stated that the Bridge Competition and the Summer Camp programme are part of the same effort to heighten mutual cross-cultural understanding between Chinese and Africans. “This comes at a time when South Africa and China are celebrating 20 years of formal relations with one another, and takes place against the backdrop of growing trade volumes, mutual investment and cooperation at the international forum levels. Competitions such as these should be seen as prime opportunities to underline this with a kind of people-to-people diplomacy that transcends economics and connects the two peoples for a stronger understanding.”

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