Western celebrates student success at Chinese Language Bridge Competition

Western Sydney University students Hamish Spark and Gracie Collins have been awarded third place at the prestigious Chinese Language Bridge Competition in their categories of Chinese Speech and Chinese Cultural Performance.

For non-native Chinese learners, the virtual competition saw over 300,000 students from 120 countries participate, marking the 20th anniversary of the event. The competition was highly contested and intense, comprised of two rounds lasting three hours.

Hamish’s speech, ‘We are One Family with the World’, told a beautiful story about his Chinese learning experience blending humour, tongue twisters and sophisticated Beijing jingling rhyme.

For her cultural performance, Gracie bravely chose a classic Chinese song, ‘Kangding Love Song’. The piece had complicated lyrics and was sung with profound emotion to an enthusiastic reception.

Bachelor of Arts student Hamish, who following his speech will represent Australia at a second global Chinese language competition and receive a government scholarship to study in China, said he chose to study the language because it was the language he knew the least about, and would gain the most by learning it.

“A whole world of information opened up after just the first few weeks of the course. I was a little bit unsure about the whole thing when I was started, but in retrospect studying Chinese is the best decision I've ever made,” said Hamish.

“The difference between myself today and myself two and a half years ago is incredible to think about – it’s an exceptional course at Western Sydney University, I really don't think I could have gone nearly as far anywhere else.”

Gracie, who also studies Chinese as part of the Bachelor of Arts, said the competition was an opportunity to progress her skills and expose herself to another culture and language.

“Language is how people express and encoded within language is the history and culture of people, meaning you can learn so much about someone simply by learning their native tongue,” said Gracie.

“We all have to start somewhere, and for me growing up monolingual I have taken every chance I could to learn and experience other cultures and their languages – it is very valuable to me.”

Professor Matt McGuire, Acting Dean of School of Humanities and Communication Arts, congratulated Hamish and Gracie for their incredible achievements.

"Western Sydney University is strongly committed to our students, people and communities, both local and global. With the University’s tremendous team and institutional support, we are able to deliver one of the best Chinese programs in Australia, and to help students like Hamish and Gracie become truly global citizens," said Professor McGuire.

Associate Professor Ruying Qi, Chinese Program Founder, Convenor and Director of Bilingualism Research Lab in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, said: “The competition is a unique international experience for our Chinese non-native students to showcase their international-mindedness and bilingual capabilities."

In addition to support from the School and Associate Professor Qi, the students participated in two months of training with their coach and teacher, Mr Lijiang Zhao.