A recap of the 19th International Chinese Speech Contest Online

On the 8th of May, Confucius Institute Maastricht hosted the Dutch final of the 19th International Chinese Speech Contest Online. 8 contestants from Groningen, Leiden, Amsterdam, Delft and  Maastricht participated in the contest to share their passion for the Chinese language and culture with the public and the jury. Besides language proficiency, contestants also showcased their talents related to Chinese culture to win over the jury’s heart.

The contest took place on the online platform Starleaf, made possible by Media Service Maastricht. The event was live streamed on YouTube for family, friends, organizations, and people interested in the Chinese language and culture to watch. 70 people watched the livestream to show their interest in the contest and the contestants.

During the contest a panel of 7 expert jury members graded the different rounds for each contestant. After the contest, many of them praised the event and expressed their amazement with the Chinese level the contestants possessed. Jury member Jessica Paardekoper of NUFFIC shared the following, “That was a lot of fun! Well organized and I am very, very impressed about the level of the candidates!”

The online contest also had invited three guest speakers: Mrs Annemarie Penn-te Strake, Mayor of Maastricht, who gave an opening speech to welcome everyone to “Maastricht” virtually; Mr Luc Verburgh, President of Zuyd University, who gave an opening speech, and Mr Luo Ping, Education Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands, who as a closing speaker shared some remarks about the development of Chinese language education in the Netherlands. They conveyed their best regards toward the contestants and gave compliments to the organization of the event.

The event was hosted by the Director of Confucius Institute Maastricht, Xinxin Wang, who led both contestants and jury members through the whole event. She was enthusiastic about the outcome, noting “You are the bridge, through the language tool that you can share your thoughts and knowledge. 各美其美,美人之美 [quote from Fei Xiaotong.] Everything has its unique form of beauty, precious is to appreciate other forms of beauty.”

The contest’s theme of One World, One Family was especially poignant considering the ongoing corona crisis. Contestants shared what one world, one family meant to them, using examples that ranged from personal exchange experiences in China to how international aid has been a key part of fighting COVID-19.

The audience, jury, and hosts alike were impressed by contestants’ mature insight and heart-warming stories. After each contestant gave their speech, they selected an envelope with a question in Chinese asking for their opinion on a relevant social topic. Participants shared their thoughts on how to protect the environment, what they would change about the world, and what success means to them. The speech contest concluded with an exciting talent round. Participants proudly showcased their Chinese-themed talents, including fan dancing, paper folding, Chinese ink painting, and trumpet playing.

First prize went to Nol Duindam of Groningen University for his exciting story on visiting a special metro station in Chongqing, his whimsical trumpet playing, and his insightful answer on the societal challenges presented by COVID-19. He will be receiving an opportunity to compete in the international finals of the Chinese Bridge Speech Contest in China, a semester scholarship to study in China, and have support for an internship.

Second prize was awarded to Adam Bootes of Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. His speech discussed how his time abroad at Nankai University opened his eyes to what home and family really mean. Adam presented a passionate reading of a Chinese poem, complete in the cultural dress style. He will be traveling to China as a guest of the Chinese Bridge Contest and will also receive a semester-long scholarship for Dongbei University of Finance and Economics as well as have support for an internship.

Third prize went to Daniel Vuyk of Groningen University. Daniel impressed the judges with an personal story about traveling through China as a foreigner. He artfully sang a Chinese song accompanied by his guitar-playing. He will receive support from CIM in finding an internship.

This event could not have been possible without help from its co-organizers, sponsors, and CIM staff. Special thanks goes 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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