By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Confucius Institute of the University of Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, has on Friday 9th June 2023 held its 22nd Edition of the Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students inclusive of those in Sierra Leone on the theme: “One World, One Family”. The event was held at the Bintumani Hotel on Aberdeen in Freetown.
10 University students from different colleges, who were contestants, gave 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.
Haja Isatu Conteh, 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 her statement, the Director at the Confucius Institute of the University of Sierra Leone, Prof. Jing Man said since 2012 Confucius Institute at USL has been focusing on international Chinese education, striving to build a platform for cultural exchange between China and Sierra Leone, promoting cultural exchanges and mutual learning between the two countries and providing opportunities for Sierra Leoneans to interact and experience Chinese culture.
The Professor informed that the Confucius Institute at USL always adheres to the principle of mutual language and Cultural exchanges, the integration of classroom teaching and extracurricular activities, the promotion of learning through competition and create brand cultural activities of the Institute at USL.
Prof. Jing Man stated that over the past year it has carried out more than 80 cultural exchange activities and there have been more than 1,300 Chinese language students and nearly 30 people have received various scholarships to study in China this year.
She maintained that a bridge is an important structure for connection and communication stressing that contextually the bridge is a bridge of the soul and can also communicate the relationship between people stressing how the Chinese bridge is a bridge of language saying different languages carry a common human vision and continued to express the view that a Chinese bridge is also a bridge of culture via which Chinese and Sierra Leoneans learn from each other and share with each other underscoring how the Chinese Bridge is even more than a bridge of friendship.
“Chinese Bridge is a large-scale Chinese competition worldwide. It is hoped that contestants while fully demonstrating their personal style, will drive the people of Sierra Leone and motivate their interest in learning Chinese, Chinese culture and promote cultural exchanges and strive to become the envoy of friendship between the two countries and the promoter of building a China-Africa community with a shared future that will create a better future for human society,” she expressed optimism.
Prof. Jing Man concluded by expressing appreciation to the four primary schools of the Small Small Chinese programme and the primary school of FBC for their support and participation. She further commended the University of Sierra Leone for its support over the years.
The Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, said in the past five months he has attended some meaningful events that depict Chinese civilization like the Chinese New Year Celebration Gala at Confucius Institute, International Chinese Language Day, International Tea Day further stating that it is heartening to see that many Sierra Leoneans, especially young students, are interested in China and the Chinese language.
He noted that now more and more Sierra Leoneans have better understanding of Chinese culture as portrayed through the Chinese Opera, Chinese Tea Arts, Chinese Martial Arts, traditional Chinese Musical Instruments and so on show the charm of the Chinese culture, the power of mutual appreciation of civilizations and the potentials of China-Sierra Leone relations.
Wang Qing said the competition is also a kind of bridge building, using the Chinese language as a medium to build a bridge between hearts and minds, adding that China and Sierra Leone have been good friends and partners, walking hand in hand over 52 years and in the new era, expressing hope that the two countries and peoples would continue to move forward together and embrace a better future.
“I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the teachers, volunteers and people from all walks of life for your devotion to and support in teaching the Chinese language without which the “Chinese Bridge” could not have come so far. I do hope you will keep up the good work and go on to achieve even greater success!” he concluded.
Addressing the gathering on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor & Principal of the University of Sierra Leone, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of IPAM, Prof. Conteh Morgan, applauded the Confucius Institute for the laudable venture by offering opportunities to foreign college students as well as Sierra Leoneans to learn the Chinese Language and Culture.
She said studying Chinese is an added advantage for Job employment in Sierra Leone of which she encouraged students to make good use of the opportunity.
Prof. Conteh Morgan concluded by reaffirming the University of Sierra Leone’s continuous support to the Confucius Institute.
The Representative from the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, Mrs. Kaiwa also used the opportunity to commend the Confucius Institute for hosting the Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition.
She said Sierra Leoneans have been benefitting from China in the areas of offering Scholarships, donations to fund certain public interest projects by Government.
Haja Istau Conteh, a student of the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) University who took the first position commended the Institute for organizing the 22ndedition of the ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students which she said has enabled her to learn the Chinese language.
She expressed gratitude for winning a ticket to travel to China for the World Final on behalf of Sierra Leone of which she assured all that she is going to empower herself more in order to emerge as the winner of the international competition.
Haja Istau Conteh called on Sierra Leonean students to show interest in learning Chinese, adding that studying Chinese in this present world has so many advantages
Closing the event was the announcement of the names of the final 10 University student winners followed by the award of prizes as well as the announcement of the final result for the 3rdEdition of the ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for primary school pupils together with the award of prizes to those who did well.