Feature: U.S. students benefit from learning Chinese language, rich culture

(Xinhua) 13:09, January 02, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The intricate art of Chinese bamboo weaving, martial arts and traditional music took center stage at an award ceremony held on Saturday evening here as some winners of the Chinese Bridge Chinese proficiency competition showcased their talents and skills.

One of the awardees, Andrew Fowler, is a senior student from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He impressed the audience with his newfound skills in Chinese traditional bamboo weaving at the ceremony held at the residence of the Chinese Consul General in San Francisco on Saturday night.

Fowler's journey to bamboo weaving began with his participation in the 22nd Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students. The competition brought him to China, where he joined over 100 students from around the world to compete for the global championship in September. Fowler's performance earned him third place in the global final.

Beyond the competition, Fowler cherished the time he spent in the picturesque countryside of Guangxi, where the competition was held. He said he immersed himself in the local culture and gained a deeper appreciation for China's rich cultural heritage and artistic traditions.

"Having grown up near Chinatown in Oakland, California, my interest in Mandarin was sparked in high school by a passionate teacher," Fowler said in fluent Chinese.

"My time in China solidified my desire to foster international connections and cultural appreciation. I plan to pursue further studies in Mandarin and linguistics in China after graduation," he added.

Fowler's story is just one of many, highlighting the growing interest in Chinese language and culture among American youths. Sage Houdek, an elementary school student from Minnesota, has been learning Chinese for seven years at Yinghua Academy.

She won the Best Performance Award at the 3rd Chinese Bridge Chinese Show Global Finals for Primary School Students which was held in China in October.

Houdek said she developed a passion for the Chinese culture from a very early age as her family celebrates the Chinese Lunar New Year every year. Besides the Chinese language, she studies holiday rituals and customs, practices Chinese calligraphy and dance, and even plays traditional Chinese folk music on the violin.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity to visit China and connect with Chinese people," she told the audience in Chinese.

"The journey of Chinese Bridge not only helps me to learn the language but also make more friends," Houdek said. "In 2024, I will work harder to learn Chinese and become an envoy for U.S.-China friendship."

Another inspiring example is Ivana Moreno, a student from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. She started her Chinese language journey at an immersion school when she was just five years old.

Her passion for the Chinese language extends to her future plans. "I want to be a teacher in the future," she said. "I love teaching and I believe it's rewarding to work with children and share my love for the Chinese language and culture."

"I was deeply impressed by the students' proficiency in Chinese," said Chinese Deputy Consul General in San Francisco Zou Yonghong.

"Learning Chinese can open doors to new opportunities," Zou noted. "Chinese is the language with the largest number of speakers as a first language in the world and is one of the six working languages of the United Nations. There are at least 1.5 billion Chinese speakers in the world, accounting for one-fifth of the world's total population."

"These young people represent a growing trend of cultural exchanges and understanding between the United States and China," she added, stressing the role of learning Chinese in promoting the healthy development of China-U.S. relations.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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