30 March 2011
Two SOAS students are among the top three UK finalists in a prestigious competition in Chinese language and culture.
James Bilbow, a fourth year undergraduate in Chinese and Business Management, tied for second place in the UK round of the 10th Chinese Bridge, a famously difficult competition for non-native speakers.
He will go to the finals in Beijing along with the winner of the UK round, Peter Dolby, an undergraduate in Chinese Studies at the University of Edinburgh.
Alexander Odahara, a third-year SOAS undergraduate in Chinese, placed third.
The UK finals were held at Friends House, on Euston Road in London, on 19 March. Dignitaries at the event included Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, who delivered the opening remarks.
Each year, more than 6,000 contestants from around the world enter the Chinese Bridge competition. During the early rounds, held in the spring, competitors must deliver a speech in Chinese, answer questions about Chinese culture and demonstrate a talent associated with China, such as storytelling, calligraphy, martial arts, singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument.
In the final three rounds, held in China over the summer, contestants are given a theme and must build a performance around that theme through skits, plays and debates, with help from a 'celebrity supporting act'.
Stewart Johnson, then a third-year SOAS undergraduate in Chinese and Law, won the overall competition in 2010. He was invited to deliver a speech in Chinese at this year's UK finals, at which John Stainer, a fourth-year Chinese undergraduate at SOAS, was one of the presenters. Both were praised at the event for their fluency and flair for expression in Chinese.
A SOAS student has made it to the Beijing finals in each of the 10 years since the competition was established.
"SOAS has always had one contestant achieve one of the top two places to go to China representing UK universities for the international competition," said Zhaoxia Pang, the students' language teacher.
"This amazing achievement demonstrates that the SOAS Chinese department is the place for those who want to aim high in Chinese language learning, thanks to a small but strongly dedicated Chinese language teaching team."
For further information, contact:
Directorate of External Relations & Development
+44 (0)20 7898 4135