A recap of the 20th International Chinese Bridge Speech Competition

On the 15th of July, Confucius Institute Maastricht hosted the Dutch final of the 20th Chinese Bridge Speech Competition online. Five contestants from higher education institutions in Maastricht, Leiden and Groningen joined the competition to showcase their knowledge and proficiency in Chinese language and culture, presenting not only their amazing language skills but also sharing inspiring personal stories about their language learning journeys.  

The contest was broadcasted live by Media Service Maastricht for family, friends, sponsors, and Chinese language enthusiasts, reaching an audience of approximately 30 people onYouTube.

Seven international jury members evaluated the performances, rating students based on their content, pronunciation, and fluency. All were impressed with the level and versatility the contestants showed throughout the contest. Dr. Lili Deng, previous Chinese Director of Confucius Institute Maastricht who joined the jury live from China, remarked that no matter where in the world you are, it is possible to come together with a shared love of the Chinese language. She encouraged contestants to “show your talent and style and enjoy the contest!”

The competition consisted of three action-packed rounds. In the first round, contestants introduced themselves in Chinese, highlighting their hobbies, background, and favorite parts of learning languages. The second round granted participants a platform to reflect on the contest’s theme of  One World, One Family in a three-minute, live speech. The contestants shared their personal interpretation of this phrase and why it matters in an increasingly globalized society. Many of the contestants reflected on the theme of language as a bridge in the world, powerful in its ability to unite others and transcend differences. At the closing of each contestants’ speech, they participated in a brief Q&A round, selecting a virtual envelope with a question to answer in Chinese. Focused on societally relevant topics, the participants shared their views on the importance of protecting the environment, how they define success, and more.

Finally, the third round was an opportunity for the five contestants to dazzle the jury with their Chinese-themed talents. Two contestants performed moving renditions of traditional Chinese poems, another presented Chinese cooking, and paper cutting and singing were also in the spotlight. 

The event was hosted by the Director of Confucius Institute Maastricht, Xinxin Wang, who led both contestants and jury members through the whole event. A number of guest speakers also joined to encourage the participants and express the importance of intercultural communication. She remarked, 各美其美,美人之美, or everything is beautiful in its own way, it is precious to appreciate this beauty. 

Ms. Annemarie Penn-te Strake, Mayor of Maastricht, opened the contest by welcoming everyone to Maastricht virtually, remarking on the city’s unique and strategic location in the Euregion. Last year’s Chinese Bridge winner, Nol Duindam, shared how his life had changed in the year since he participated in the contest and encouraged students to keep up the hard work studying. He wished them a resounding 加油, or keep up the good work! Finally,  Mr. Luo Ping, from the Educational Attaché of the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands, shared remarks about how Chinese language education has developed in the Netherlands over the years and how opportunities like the Chinese Bridge competition can encourage students to pursue lifelong learning. 

After intense deliberation following the impressive performances, the jury members awarded first prize to Brady Jeronimus from Leiden University. In his speech, Brady shared how learning Chinese has allowed him to connect with people from around the world: 学会中国话,朋友遍天下, or learning Chinese will bring you friends from all over. Brady wowed the judges with his Chinese singing and rapping skills and clear passion for the language. He will be receiving an opportunity to compete in the global finals of the Chinese Bridge Speech Contest in China and a scholarship of International Chinese Language Education.  

Second prize went to Erik Twisk from NHL Stenden. Erik’s thoughtful speech discussed the importance of finding similarities rather than focusing on differences to understand people from other cultures. He used the example of cooking Chinese food as a means of feeling close with another culture, and he was able to showcase his cooking talents during the talent portion in a video that had everyone’s mouth watering.

The jury awarded Yoep Vaesen from Zuyd University of Applied Sciences with third prize. Yoep was commended for his careful pronunciation and poignant line, “因为爱不应该有地址,” or love doesn’t have an address. Erik and Yoep will receive a scholarship for Dongbei University of Finance and Economics’s summer Chinese program, as well as the chance to intern at any of the contest’s amazing company sponsors: Eggxpert, SEIPA, The Rights Company, and the Sino-Euro Service Desk of LIOF.

This event could not have been possible without help from its co-organizers, sponsors, and CIM staff. Special thanks go to Media Service Maastricht for technological support, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Chinese Bridge Organization, Provincial Government Limburg, Maastricht Municipality, Sittard-Geleen Municipality, and Dongbei University of Finance and Economics. 

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