“Chinese Bridge” is a yearly global university students Chinese competition held by Hanban, it is a competition which students from universities worldwide can participate in, it tests students’ Chinese proficiency, their Chinese cultural knowledge, and their talents and skills. It is a well-known event which promotes cultural and language exchange between nations. In February 2018, the 17th “Chinese Bridge” United Kingdom regional competition was held. With regards to this competition, a high amount of attention was paid to it by our Confucius Institute leader; Chinese teacher Laihui Song （宋来惠）was dispatched with the task to organise and liaise. Through diligent deliberation, UCLan’s Chinese departments’ Samuel Graham Williams Joy (王乐) was chosen to represent UCLan at the competition. UCLan’s Confucius Institute assigned the two teachers Laihui Song（宋来惠） and Xueting Luo（罗雪婷） to tutor and help prepare Samuel Joy for this competition. To help Samuel achieve the best possible result at the competition, Laihui Song and Xueting Luo spent a great deal of time and effort supporting and helping Samuel prepare.
The United Kingdom regional Chinese Bridge competition was split into 3 parts: preliminary contest, intermediary contest, and the finals. The competition’s content was also split into three different sections, firstly a self-chosen Chinese language speech, secondly Chinese language and cultural knowledge questions, then finally a Chinese talent performance. For the first section, Samuel chose the topic “I found the beauty of Chinese” (我发现了汉语的美). For this section, an original script was written and then revised and perfected many times, afterwards close to two months was spent practicing the speech, along with constant refinement and polishing of every small detail. The second stage regarded Chinese language and cultural knowledge. The first and second stage were mentored by Laihui Song, for the third stage’s Chinese talent performance, Confucius Institute professional dance teacher Xueting Luo provided tutoring to Samuel. After meticulous deliberation, a classical Chinese dance to the theme “Drinking Alone Under the Moon” (月下独酌) was chosen. The dance was inspired by the poem of the same name “Drinking Alone Under the Moon” by the famous Tang dynasty poet Li Bai. The three themes of poetry, dance, and joy were combined to form the performance, it expresses ancient Chinese scholar’s unconventional and broad-minded style, the pursuit of freedom and aspirational human qualities, and expresses the performers’ love for traditional Chinese culture. For this event, the two teachers invested a great amount of time and energy, they sacrificed a lot of their personal free-time to repeatedly tutor and help Samuel practice. Samuel faced all kinds of difficulties, namely having the courage to challenge himself, to bear hardships, and painstakingly practice; in a short period of time his related Chinese language, Chinese cultural knowledge and dance performance level all notably improved.
In London, on the afternoon of 24th March at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, more than 30 students coming from more than 20 universities across the UK came to participate in the “Chinese Bridge” global university students’ UK regional competition. In the preliminary stage facing many tough competitors, through his fluently spoken speech, accurate Chinese knowledge answers, and brilliant Chinese dance performance, Samuel went through to the finals. The night of the finals was very ceremonious, famous domestic and international news broadcasters reported on the event, and many well-known people attended. These included the Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming who attended and made a speech, British London Region Board of Directors Chairman Lamar and British Cultural Association leader, numerous Chinese British embassy and consulate officials, more than 20 University Confucius Institute Directors, Chinese-British enterprise representatives, and participating school teachers and students, in total more than 600 people were present to watch the finals. Our universities’ Confucius Institute Director Feixia Yu personally came to the event to support and encourage Samuel. In the face of many distinguished guests and high-level contestants, Samuel again made great efforts, the tougher the competition the more he excelled, his final result was achieving 6th place out of all the contestants, winning him one of the 3rd prize awards. On behalf of University of Central Lancashire, he achieved a great result and made a breakthrough, at the “Chinese Bridge” competition this was UCLan’s first time to attain such a great result.