Over the past few months, students from Stellenbosch University (SU) and learners from the Cape Winelands district excelled in the South African round of the annual Chinese Bridge competition organised by the Confucius Institute at SU (CISU). This Chinese speaking and performance competition has dedicated divisions for university students, secondary school and primary school learners. It serves as a platform for foreigners to showcase their Chinese language proficiency and cultural understanding.
The 22nd edition of the competition for university students was hosted in Durban towards the end of May. The first to be held in face-to-face mode post-pandemic, the event saw 14 participants from six Confucius Institutes across South Africa gather to compete under the theme “One world, one family". SU students Samantha Cox and Greta Frieslaar kept the Maties flag flying high by securing second place. This achievement also earned them the opportunity to participate in the 2023 Chinese Bridge summer camp in China.
Samantha's speech, “Home", shared her personal journey of learning Chinese during the pandemic. Her performance combined Chinese dance with a recitation of a poem from the Song dynasty. Greta, in turn, spoke about the value of studying Chinese in her speech, “Encountering Chinese, encountering the world", and performed a dance deeply rooted in Chinese culture.
In mid-June, secondary school learners from South Africa got their chance to showcase their Chinese skills at the 16th edition of their national competition. Eleven participants from five Confucius Institutes and high schools nationwide came together at the event hosted in Cape Town. Isabelle Goussard from Stellenbosch High School and Dané Taylor from Kylemore High School made the Cape Winelands area proud by emerging as overall winners. Isabelle's performance involved a speech on Chinese painting, and playing the kuaiban, a traditional Chinese percussion instrument. Dané shared with the audience her childhood fascination with Chinese Kung Fu movies, re-enacted classic scenes from the well-known Chinese book Dream of Red Chamber, and performed Chinese opera.
The more recently introduced division for primary school learners, scheduled for the same day as the secondary school competition, attracted 17 contestants from across the country. The top spot in this third edition of the contest went to Caryn Cornelius and Kiron Roberts, both from the CISU Confucius Classroom at Cloetesville-based Rietenbosch Primary School.
Through the Chinese Bridge competition and other initiatives, CISU continues to promote the Chinese language and culture among Stellenbosch students and learners, thereby fostering a deeper interest in Chinese language studies and strengthening cultural exchange and friendship between South Africa and China.