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American students put their Chinese skills on show
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A team of three American students from Massachusetts, whose Chinese names are An Lirong, Dong Wei and Sun Siming, came second in the First Chinese Bridge-Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign High School Students, in Jinan in North China's Shandong Province. They also received scholarships from the Office of Chinese Language Council International to study in China.

This competition had four parts-listening, reading, writing, and speaking-and high school students from 24 countries took part. A Singaporean team took the title.

Through a strict selection process run by the New York Consulate General and the Confucius Institutes, the three Massachusetts Students qualified to take part in the competition. They have been studying Chinese with their Chinese teacher Gao Jian for 2-3 years in Belmont Hill school.

"We are very lucky to have had the chance to take part in the competition," said Gao. "It is an unforgettable experience. I am so proud for my students."

Jack Wilson of the University of Massachusetts believes that mastering a foreign language and understanding some of different country's culture is very important because of the trend of globalization. "It is important for China to offer a chance for worldwide students to get to know China's language, culture, and people," he said. "In last two years, the Confucius Institute at the University of Massachusetts has organized two Chinese Bridge-Chinese Proficiency Competitions for all American high school students, supported by Chinese Language Council International."

Macy William, the students' Deputy Headmaster who is also a Confucius Institute President, said: "We are so happy to have provided our high school students with a chance to take part in this competition and they have given us a pleasant surprise with such a good result." She also indicated that Confucius Institutes provide many services to promote friendship between China and America, such as Chinese teaching and Chinese cultural activities.

This is the first time a "Chinese Bridge" competition has been held in China though they have been organized three times in America. In 2007 about 60,000 American students visited China to learn Chinese, and Massachusetts is one of the states with the highest number of high school students learning Chinese.

(China.org.cn by Wu Huanshu, September 24, 2008)

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