Building Bridges in Beijing
Exhilarating new experiences, remarkable people, personal enrichment, learning, friendship. These are all things that I have experienced in abundance throughout the process of learning the Chinese language which started whilst I was studying in South Africa. I am currently at Peking University, furthering my studies in Chinese. Being in a foreign environment such as Beijing, I find that I am pushed to do things that I generally would not do at home where I am more set in my ways. Opening myself up to all that this place has to offer always brings some form of value to my life, without fail.
One such experience was the Sino-Africa Friendship Chinese Bridge Competition which required participants to demonstrate proficiency in the Chinese language as well as their knowledge of Chinese and African Culture and the history of China-Africa cooperation. 103 students participated in the competition which was held in Beijing. The competition participants comprised of students who came from African countries, African studentS studying in China and Chinese students.
Being with fellow Africans from all corners of the continent and meeting Chinese students from across the country was a tremendous pleasure. As the competition commenced it became evident that we all treasured the chance to form these new friendships just as much as we did the opportunity to be taking part in the competition, if not more so. The competition thus truly does live up to its name in that many lifelong bridges were formed in the two week period of the competition; both between Africans and between African and Chinese youths.
I was thrilled to be able to take second place at the competition together with my team, Lin Yihang from Fijian Province, China and Kafoune from Bamako, Mali. Although I was representing South Africa and very proudly so, cheers of support came from the other participants right up until the final stage. This truly demonstrated the sense of comradery that exists and is growing ever stronger between Chinese and African people.
I am deeply grateful to Hanban for organising the event, to Beijing Language and Culture University for hosting the competition and to the South African Embassy for the support.