By Uchechukwu Nnaike
A recent graduate from the Department of Quantity Surveying, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Miss Gbemisola Fadeyi has emerged winner in the college category, of the 2016 Chinese Bridge, Chinese Proficiency Competition in Nigeria, conducted by the Confucius Institute (CI) of the university.
By the feat, she will join students from other countries to participate in the semi-final and final of the competition at the headquarters of the Confucius Institute in Beijing, China.
The competition, sponsored by Huawei Technologies, was organised at three levels, primary, secondary and college levels. It is aimed at arousing the enthusiasm of students in various countries in learning Chinese and strengthening the world’s understanding of Chinese language and culture.
In the primary and secondary levels, the competition entails quiz and talent show, while the contestants in the college level presented speeches in Chinese language, in addition to the quiz and talent show, where they demonstrate their knowledge of the Chinese culture.
Apart from the trip to China to participate in the finals, Fadeyi also received a tablet from the sponsor and would be awarded scholarship; the first runner-up would also travel to China to witness the semi-final and final as a member of the audience, in addition to receiving a tablet; while the second runner-up received the tablet. The other contestants got certificates of participation and consolation prizes.
In the primary level, where only two schools were represented, Ladybird Primary School came first, while AJC Primary School came second. In the secondary level, Ikeja Junior Grammar School came first, while Immaculate Junior School and Grace High School came second and third respectively. The winning schools got trophies and other prizes.
Speaking with THISDAY, Fadeyi, who joined the institute last year, said she likes learning languages and that she did her best to emerge the winner. She said she would prepare harder for the finals in China and do her best to make Nigeria proud.
She advised those interested in learning Chinese to go for it and do their best, as being able to speak different languages gives one an edge over others.
In her remarks, the Director of Confucius Institute, Prof. Yongjing Wang, the competition was organised to select the best person to go to China to represent Nigeria in the semifinal and the final of the Chinese Bridge.
She said since the institute also teaches primary and secondary school students, they were invited to render their performances as practitioners of the Chinese Language. “In one sense we can see how well they have been studying, in the other sense we can see how welcome the competition is among young students.”
She expressed satisfaction with the performance of the students, and the ability of Nigerians to learn languages. “I was impressed by their performances, I didn’t expect that they could sing or dance and especially make speeches in Chinese Language.”
The Executive Director of the institute, Dr. Tony Okeregbe, said by gaining proficiency in Chinese Language, “we are better able to relate with others in the world who also have acquired the language; we are also better able to relate with an emerging political actor, which is China, whether you like it or not, China is an emerging political actor, it is an alternative to the present world global order and if you do not have the wherewithal, meaning the language and culture to relate with them, you will lose out.”
While congratulating the students for an impressive performance, he commended Ladybird Primary School for being exceptional since the inception of the competition four years ago.
On his part, the Public Relations Director of Huawei, Pan Haiyang, expressed delight to contribute towards the competition; he said the company, which entered the Nigerian market in 1999, is committed to building a digital bridge to connect people around the world with the help of ICT.
“Such connection can also be enhanced by language, which is a cultural bridge. People from different cultures can communicate with each other and know each other better with the help of language.
“We are now living in a world which sees increasing global economic integration and a fast-growing China. Therefore, knowing each other can’t be more important, which gives rise to Confucius Institute. The institute builds a bridge for cultural communication for China and the world. The Chinese Bridge competition has a slogan ‘Xuehao Zhongguohua, Pengyou Biantianxia’, that means ‘if you learn Chinese well, you can make friends around the world’. If you want to get connected with the world, come learn Chinese.”