19 September 2012
Two SOAS University of London undergraduate students, Owen Churchill and Maximilian Sleigh-Parrot, represented the UK at the 11th International Chinese Bridge competition in Central China's Hunan province this summer, after taking first and second place in the UK preliminary competition.
Chinese Bridge – fully titled the Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students - has been held annually since 2002. The preliminary competition is held in over 50 countries, with the top two winners from each country travelling to China for the final stages.
From the 117 contestants representing universities from all over the world, Owen entered the finals as one of the top six and won the competition’s online popularity contest - receiving over 64,000 votes by internet viewers.
Ms Zhaoxia Pang, Owen's language teacher at SOAS, said:
"Owen was a total beginner when he first came to SOAS – he didn’t even know what 'ni hao' (hello) meant. I gave Owen his Chinese name Aowen. 'Ao' means 'being proud of' and 'Wen' means 'linguistically and literarily talented'.
"On the stage, Owen told the Chinese audience 'I am very proud of being able to speak to over 1.3 billion Chinese people in Chinese, just as my Chinese name implies!' As his language teacher, I have no doubt that Owen's great achievement— from zero to hero— will certainly inspire all others who study Chinese at SOAS."
Owen and Maxmilian's success continues the long history of success of SOAS undergraduates in the most esteemed competition in Chinese proficiency and Chinese culture.
Michel Hockx, SOAS Professor of Chinese and Director of the London Confucius Institute, said:
"SOAS has one of the best Chinese language programmes in the Western world, if not the best. It's as simple as that. In this day and age, with China playing such a crucial role in the world, and with the demand for Chinese speakers constantly increasing, this is something we can be very proud of."