UL Student Wins Chinese-Bridge Proficiency Competition

Student Clarence S. Johnson.

Student Clarence S. Johnson of the Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia has emerged as the grand prize winner of this year’s Chinese-Bridge Proficiency   competition to represent Liberia at the Global final this July in China.

The Chinese-Bridge Proficiency competition for Foreign college students is a large-scale international Chinese competition sponsored by the Center for Language Education and Cooperation in China (CLECC). 

The theme of this year’s competition is “One World, One Family: Building a Bridge of Friendship Between China and Liberia.” The Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia, in partnership with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, organized the event. It was graced by remarks delivered virtually from the President of the University of Liberia, Rev. Dr. Julius S. Nelson, Mr. Tarnue M. Bongolee, Assistant Minister of Education, and Chinese Amb. H.E Ren Yisheng, among others.

The Chinese-Bridge Chinese proficiency competition is an annual event aimed at providing a stage for Liberian college students to show their skills in the Chinese language from Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia (UL), building a platform for mutual learning and communication, inspiring students’ passion and interest in learning Chinese, and enhancing their understanding of the Chinese language and culture. It is now an important platform for international college students to learn the Chinese language and understand more about China. It also serves as a bridge to help young people around the world better communicate with one another.

This year's competition, which occurred via Zoom, consists of two stages, which include overseas preliminary rounds and the Global Finals in China. The contestants are Liberian college students aged between 18 and 30, who were born and grew up outside China and whose native language is not Chinese. (In principle, contestants from the previous Global Finals are not permitted to participate in two consecutive competitions.)

This year’s final comprised eight contestants, namely, Clarence S. Johnson, who won the grand prize, Dwilson K. Zawol, Koso Wilson Joshua, who emerged as the first prize winner, and Maxwell Sam Johnson and A. Layee Kelleh, who also emerged as the third prize winners. However, the competition was divided into the preliminary and the final. The preliminary took the form of an online written test, and those with excellent results advanced to the final. 

The final consists of three parts: Chinese speech, knowledge quiz, and talent show. The scoring of each part is as follows: Chinese speech (40%), knowledge quiz (25%), and the talent show (35%). After the three parts are scored, a rank of winners will be obtained according to the scores.

There are one Grand Prize, two First Prizes, three Second Prizes, four Third Prizes, and several Merit Awards will be granted to the contestants in the Liberian final, according to their scores given by the judges. All the contestants in the Liberian final were awarded certificates. The student champion (Student Clarence S. Johnson) is now eligible to represent Liberia to participate in the Global Finals of the 21st Chinese-Bridge Competition in China.

During the event, China's Ambassador to Liberia, Ren Yisheng, expressed delight and appreciation for the eight constants, saying that language is a bond that connects people together through time and space.

Amb. Yisheng told participants that in recent years, enthusiasm for learning the Chinese language has been growing worldwide, and more and more Liberian friends are joining the ranks of Chinese learners. 

He said that he is convinced that, as devoted learners of the language, one must have discovered its beauty and the rich history and cultural heritage embodied in each Chinese character and get to learn about China’s five-thousand-year-long civilization and the value of peace and harmony that are deeply rooted in the blood of Chinese culture and Chinese people.

“Dear friends,” the Chinese diplomat said, “in recent years, President Xi Jinping has proposed the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind together with the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative (GDI). Not long ago, President Xi also proposed the Global Security Initiative (GSI). The nature behind these new visions echoes the traditional Chinese philosophy of pursuing harmony, peace, and win-win cooperation, as well as the topic of the competition, “One World, One Family,” he explained. 

Amb. Yisheng

Amb. Yisheng pointed out that these visions help them to foster a new type of security and co-existence and common development that replaces confrontation, alliance, and a zero-sum approach with dialogue, partnership, and win-win results. 

“I see the Chinese Bridge as a bridge of dialogue and exchange between the people of China and Liberia who enjoy traditional friendly ties,” he said.

Amb. Yisheng indicated that the Chinese government continues to provide Liberia with more than 50 full Chinese government scholarships and hundreds of short-term training opportunities every year to support the capacity building of Liberians.

He noted that for 14 consecutive years, the Chinese government has dispatched a medical team to JFK Hospital to help provide high-quality medical and health services to the people of Liberia, adding that the Chinese government has also implemented a zero-tariff policy on 98% of imported goods from Liberia.

“Today, China-Liberia relations are presented with unprecedented historical opportunities for further growth. To understand China, mastering its language is the golden key. I hope that you will all excel in learning the Chinese language, become “ambassadors” of friendship, help present a real China to the Liberian public, and further promote our time-honored relations. I wish you all excellent performances in the competition, and today's event is a great success, "he concluded.

The University of Liberia President, Rev. Dr. Julius S. Nelson, and Assistant Education Minister Mr. Tarnue M. Bongolee thanked the Confucius Institue and the People’s Republic of China through its Embassy near Monrovia for the much-needed support.