Learning Chinese gives Australian teens new telescopes to explore the world – Xinhua

A participant delivers a speech at the Australian finals of the 17th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Language Proficiency Competition for overseas high school students in Sydney, Australia, May 26, 2024. Twelve participants from across the country participated in the final round. (Xinhua/Ma Ping)

SYDNEY, May 27 (Xinhua) — For many teenagers in culturally diverse Australia, mastering a new language other than English opens the way to connect with friends from different backgrounds in the same community, explore alternative ways of life and see the whole world through a broader horizon.

The Australian finals of the 17th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese proficiency competition for overseas high school students concluded in Sydney on Sunday, with 12 young contestants from across the Oceania country taking part.

After taking an initial written test on basic knowledge, the Australian teenager came to the stage, and gave a speech that echoed the motto “Fly High with Sugar”.

In the final round, a series of talent performances brought the competition to a climax, where contestants wore a full set of elaborate traditional Chinese clothing such as Hanfu, Qipao, and Peking Opera costumes to demonstrate their understanding of Chinese culture.

Some of these accomplished polyglots sang classical Chinese songs such as “Tian Mi Me”, while others were talented performers of musical instruments. Not only were they skilled at interpreting Chinese music with instruments such as the violin, flute and piccolo, but they were also adept at playing the cucurbit flute, known as the hulusi.

In addition, the final round also included traditional Chinese dance and modern hip-hop performances, and some participants even showed off their calligraphy skills.

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Hayley Richards from Methodist Ladies’ College was the winner of this year’s finals in Australia.

With the support of her mother, Richards has been learning Chinese since she was 5. This year is her second time competing in the Chinese proficiency competition.

“It was crazy. After all this time, I finally made it. I always thought maybe I would get first place, but what actually happened is always a surprise,” the excited 15-year-old said after the match.

Richards told Xinhua that what attracted him to Chinese culture was not just the fact that he loved learning the language and continued to study it for a long time.

“Once you can talk to people in Chinese, you feel more encouraged to continue learning the language because you can actually talk to people,” he said, noting that the language has helped him learn about China’s rich culture and history.

Growing up in Australia, a culturally diverse country, Richards has many Chinese friends and frequently visits their homes, where he can talk to their parents and become familiar with Chinese customs.

“Knowing what their normal lives are like gives us a broader perspective on the world,” said Richards, who aspires to become an ambassador in her future career to promote communication between Australian and Chinese cultures.

During the event, China’s Acting Consul-General in Sydney Wang Chunsheng highlighted that the Chinese language symbolises China’s broad and profound history and culture, and that the number of people learning Chinese in Australia has grown to 190,000.

He hoped that more Australian friends would enjoy learning the Chinese language, visit China more often, share their first-hand experiences of exchanges between China and Australia, and help enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

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“Intercultural understanding is essential to understanding a culture and people. This includes not just language, but also knowledge of culture, history, geography and cultural performances,” said Robert Coke, Deputy Mayor of the City of Sydney.

“I think all of you are the best ambassadors for Australia when you represent us in China,” Kok said.

According to the Chinese Consulate General in Sydney, organiser of the Australian finals, the top performers are expected to travel to China for the world championships.

A participant demonstrates calligraphy at the Australian finals of the 17th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for overseas high school students in Sydney, Australia, May 26, 2024. Twelve participants from across the country participated in the final round. (Xinhua/Ma Ping)

About the author: Cory Weinberg

"Student. Subtly charming organizer. Certified music advocate. Writer. Lifelong troublemaker. Twitter lover."

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