Maryland Student Wins Regional Chinese Bridge Language Comp

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This past April, the Chinese Bridge Language Competition celebrated its 12th year of international college level competition in Chinese language and culture. The annual regional event has been hosted for nine years by the Confucius Institute at Maryland (CIM) as part of its mission to enhance the understanding of China in surrounding schools and communities. The three-part contest invites non-native Chinese language students to prepare a speech in Chinese, create a short cultural performance piece, and answer China related questions in a tough Q&A segment. The winner of this area's competition then goes on to final rounds in China. 

The 2013 regional college competition at the University of Maryland involved 10 universities from states including Maryland, Nebraska, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., as 21 students competed for a chance to participate in the final contest in China. Rivalries in past years have always been keen between "The three Georges" in D.C. and Virginia-George Washington, George Mason, and Georgetown Universities - but this year was a thrilling breakthrough for UMD with first place going to senior Damien Liles. His humorous and compelling speech and performance earned him very high marks. Liles said afterward that because he did not expect to do anything extraordinary, he was able to relax, do his best, and have a good time, which clearly yielded exceptional results. 

Liles, along with 120 other regional winners from around the world, was invited to travel to Changsha, China, this past July for three weeks of intensive language preparation and rehearsals for the final rounds of the global competition. Although Liles did not bring home the world title, he had a thrilling, eye-opening, and unforgettable experience. He said after the trip, "I have friends to visit no matter what country I find myself in." Liles, who has studied Russian as well, hopes to obtain work in translation and interpretation for international relations. 

The Confucius Institute also hosted the annual K-12 Bridge competitions, involving many area schools. Notable students hailed from Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C., McDonogh High School in Baltimore, Baltimore International Academy, and Yu-Ying Public Charter School in D.C. The Bridge event brings together families from many backgrounds who share· an interest in China and provides a forum for enhancing Chinese langJrclge and cultural awareness, building meaningful..connections across communities. 

The Chinese Bridge Language Competition is supported by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Washington, D.C., a collaborator in many China initiatives at CIM and UMD. For more information about activities at CIM, visit www. international.umd.edu/cim. 

By REBECCA MCGINNIS, CIM 

Date of Publication: 
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
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