By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Confucius Institute of the University of Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone has on Saturday 18th June 2022 held its 21st edition of the Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students inclusive of those in Sierra Leone. The event was held at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown.
10 University students who were contestants gave a full display of their talents in Chinese speaking, in a Q&A session and a talent show, which took the competition from one level to another until it reached the climax.
Daniel Siaffa, a student of the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), University of Sierra Leone, bagged the first prize and won a ticket to travel to China to participate in the World Final representing Sierra Leone.
In his statement, the Director at the Confucius Institute of the University of Sierra Leone, Professor Bai, revealed that the Chinese Bridge means the Chinese language is like a bridge and it could be a tremendous and endless bridge crossing the Atlantic Ocean from one end of the globe, giving us an example from China in East Asia to the other end- Sierra Leone in West Africa.
He further described it as a huge international bridge being built by the People and Governments of China and Sierra Leone-through the Chinese language
The Director underscored that it could also be a small bridge just as the Confucius Institute of the University of Sierra Leone has been building by teaching Chinese in Sierra Leone.
“When we see our students communicating or working with Chinese people in the Chinese language -we see that the bridge of Chinese really works: we are getting closer to each other; we understand each other more and better. Finally, we become friends and brothers. Some even become international married couples. It is the Chinese Language that joins us together,” he underscored.
Professor Bai used the opportunity to state that he is going to finish his 3-year tenure in August 2022. He extended appreciation to the Department of Language Studies in the Faculty of Arts, FC, USL, for its strong support and great tolerance. He further thanked the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone and the Chinese Community in Sierra Leone for their sincere and consistent support.
Representing the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, Li Xiao Yong, noted that now more than ever before is there a need for cross-cultural knowledge and communication skills to address global challenges, adding that people are deeply aware that it is their common responsibility to cultivate a younger generation with a global vision, a global mindset,cross-language and cross-cultural abilities.
He pointed out that they have greatly enhanced their understanding of the importance of strengthening language education, deepening international cooperation, and working together to build a stronger community with a shared future for mankind.
Li Xiao Yong disclosed that China and Sierra Leone have enjoyed a time-honored friendship, furthering that last year marked the 50thanniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and that in the past five decades their education and
cultural exchange has been continuously improved upon.
He maintained that under their various Government scholarship programs, China has sponsored more than 1000 Sierra Leonean students to study in China and invited more than 5100 Sierra Leonean friends from all walks of life to China for short-term training courses or exchanges.
“China will strive to continue deepening educational and cultural exchanges with Sierra Leone as time goes on.
Rest assured that once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, more and more Sierra Leonean friends will be invited to China to experience the unparalleled charm of the Chinese culture,” said Li Xiao Yong.
“Language is a bridge connecting all different cultures and races. I hope that more and more Sierra Leonean youth will continue to learn the Chinese language through the ‘Chinese Bridge’ program, learn to tell their own personal stories through Chinese, and one day become bridges and ambassadors of the Chinese-Sierra Leonean friendship. I am happy to be here with all of you to witness the Sierra Leone Finals of the 21st ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students,” he concluded.
Addressing the gathering on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor & Principal of the University of Sierra Leone, Prof. J. Kargbo commended the Confucius Institute for the laudable venture in giving the opportunity to foreign college students to learn the Chinese Language and Culture.
He informed the gathering that the College administration and the University of Sierra Leone are ready to support the Confucius Institute in its numerous engagements.
Prof. J. Kargbo stated that for the past five years their students brought laurels to FBC and so those representing FBC should do their best to clinch the guru position. He further appealed to the Confucius Institute to add more women to the contest since only two out of ten contestants were women.
Daniel Siaffa, a student of the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) University who took the first position commended the Institute for organizing the 21st edition of the ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students which he said has enabled him to learn the Chinese language.
He maintained that he won the ticket to go to China for the World Final on behalf of Sierra Leone of which he assured all that he is going to empower himself more in order to emerge as the winner.
Closing the event was the announcement of the final 10 University student winners following the awarding of the winning prize to the winner as well as the announcement of the final result for the 2nd edition of the ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for primary school pupils as well as awarding prizes to those who did well.