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'Chinese Bridge' popular contestant on China impression
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Salatino Marisa Nicole, a 16-year-old American girl, who is considered the most popular contestant in the ongoing Chinese-speaking competition in Chongqing, talked about her impression of China in an interview at Xinhua microblog on Friday afternoon.

Salatino Marisa Nicole [Photo: bridge.chinese.cn]

Salatino Marisa Nicole [Photo: bridge.chinese.cn]

Marisa, who has studied Chinese for three years, thus having a good command of the language, came to take part in the 4th Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for foreign secondary school students held in southwest China's Chongqing City.

A total of 144 contestants from 43 countries competed in the contest, which will run from October 18 to October 30 and is the largest of its kind in terms of scale and attendance.

Marisa said she is fascinated by the charm of the time-honored Chinese culture, which is a driving force behind her Chinese study.

On her Chinese learning experience, she said: "Writing Chinese characters is the most difficult for me." She added: "I like to take a notebook with me wherever I go so that I can jot down those I don't understand and review them from time to time."

Marisa has a brother who has begun to learn Chinese one year earlier than she and was the champion of last year's Chinese Bridge competition. She often talks with her brother in Chinese at home.

"My parents thought learning Chinese can have more development opportunities for my brother, so we two began to learn Chinese, which I found more and more interesting later on," Marisa noted.

The pretty U.S. girl is versatile in arts. She loves Chinese songs and once competed in a karaoke contest. "I like dancing and can perform many genres of dances, such as ballet, but I am not good at Chinese dances. I can play weiqi and mahjong," the girl said delightedly.

At the final of this Chinese-Bridge event, the teenagers had the chance to experience the life in ordinary Chinese families for three days.

Marisa lived in the family of a student surnamed Dulieyijia of the Bashu Middle School. At weekends, Marisa visited some famous scenic spots in Chongqing and attended a Chinese-style wedding ceremony held by a colleague of Dulieyijia's father. Very soon, 13-year-old Dulieyijia and Maria became good friends. From Dulieyijia, whom Marisa took as a teacher, she learned the technique of serving tea and making dumplings. Just in one day's time, Marisa learned to make dumplings quite professionally.

When asked to talk about the difference between the life of the Chinese families from that of U.S. families, Marisa answered that her grandparents and her uncle all live in separate cities, so they seldom see each other. However, the relatives lived quite close in China, thus having chance to go outing or dining out together.

Having been to China four times, Marisa has visited many places. "China is both ancient and modern," commented Marisa, adding that she expects to have opportunities to go to more places in China.

"I have gained a lot from this competition, especially making a lot of friends from all over the world," Marisa concluded.

At the end of the interview, Marisa expressed her gratitude for all those who care and love her and wished to make friends with them.

"I will study harder and make my Chinese better in the future," she said in conclusion.

(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2011)

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