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Top Chinese language students win big in Naspers Awards
Author: Corporate Communications and Marketing (Hannelie Booyens)
Published: 17/11/2023

​​Top students in Chinese at Stellenbosch University (SU) were recently celebrated at a colourful awards ceremony where they received big prizes – and a trip to China – sponsored by Naspers. At the gala dinner held at STIAS, guests were treated to sumptuous Chinese food as well as traditional song and dance performed by the students.  

The event was hosted by the University's Department of Modern Foreign Languages and attended by the Deputy General Consul of the Chinese Consulate, Tang Chang'An, as well as consul Chen Hu. Naspers was represented by senior consultant Ian Barnard who played an important role in establishing the awards. The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Prof Anthony Leysens, was also a guest of honour. 

The Naspers prizes were awarded for a second consecutive year to students who achieved top results in each of the Chinese modules offered at SU. Based on the academic performance of the students, 22 candidates from all four years were selected to compete for the awards. They had to participate in a language proficiency test covering essay writing, speech and a general knowledge quiz to be considered for the Naspers Awards.  

The top undergraduate students all received R100 000. Additionally, eight third-year students, who successfully completed Chinese module 318 and are enrolled in Chinese module 348, earned a fantastic prize – a 14-day, an all-expenses-paid trip to China in December this year. Six honours students are currently on exchange at Renmin University of China and Xiamen University, and from the group the top two students will be selected early next year, each receiving a R100 000 scholarship and the opportunity to study at Wuhan College in China for a year.

In his address, the Deputy General Consul noted that in recent years, education and cultural exchanges have been a highlight of China-South Africa cooperation and have achieved remarkable results. “More and more South African youth are learning Chinese, gaining insight into China's history and culture. This not only provides them with broader career opportunities but also helps them realise their life dreams," Tang said.  

He encouraged the students to not only master the Chinese language but also visit China to gain a deeper understanding of the country. “Utilise your knowledge and experiences to introduce a more comprehensive and authentic China to more friends. Become messengers of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, contributing your efforts to building a community with a shared future for humanity." 

Barnard said it's encouraging to see students excel in Chinese studies. “We were very impressed with the standard of the entries for the competition. I'm sure the winners will benefit enormously from visiting China and getting an opportunity to practice their language skills."  

Chinese was introduced SU in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages in 2000. At the time, it was the first undergraduate programme in Chinese at a residential university in South Africa.  

The Head of the Chinese Section at Modern Foreign Languages, Allen Luo, thanked Naspers for their support and the close collaboration with SU. The vision of former Naspers CEO Koos (now non-executive chairperson of the Naspers Group) to establish the Chinese section has enabled SU to build a robust language centre that is firmly rooted in its dedication to teaching Chinese language and culture in a solid academic context, Luo said.  

The Chairperson of Modern Foreign Languages, Prof Catherine du Toit, congratulated the students and commended them for taking on studies in a language that demands so much time, dedication and hard work. “A sudden mad dash before the final term test will not get you anywhere. This is something all of you know. We're grateful for the fire that fuels your passion and we are proud of your success. We're also grateful to Naspers for their generosity in the encouragement of this passion, to the Chinese Consulate for assisting our efforts to expose our students directly to Chinese culture, and to the colleagues in the department for their warm collegiality."  

Naspers Awards Winners 

Maarten Cuperus was the top first-year student in the first-year Chinese class, while Maxine de Lange came first in the second-year class. Elizabeth Visser was the best third-year student this year.  

Visser said she's very honoured and grateful for the Naspers Award. “My love for Chinese started when I visited China in Grade 6 to attend a music festival with my parents. I enjoyed it very much and I became curious about the language and culture. I'm super excited that the Naspers prize money will enable me to visit China again. The award is a recognition of the hard work I put in – it's been a difficult but rewarding journey to master the language."