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US students shine in Chinese speech contest on Hong Kong (with photos)

     Students from American universities in the Greater New York area demonstrated their proficiency in Chinese in the final round of the inaugural Hong Kong Cup Chinese Speech Contest, which was organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York (New York ETO), in New York today (New York time, October 8).

     The winner of the inaugural Hong Kong Cup Chinese speech contest Kyle Ofori, first runner-up Nathaniel Jones and second runner-up Michael Becker are all from Princeton University. Their prizes include round-trip air tickets between New York and Hong Kong, a short exchange program with university students and sightseeing tours whilst there and study tools such as netbooks.

     Director of the New York ETO, Ms Anita Chan, said she was pleased with the outcome and with the achievement of the objectives of the contest, i.e. promoting a greater understanding of Hong Kong and Chinese learning as well as fostering closer ties between the United States and Hong Kong.

     She said, "Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region within China operating under the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle. Our unique culture and heritage is also reflected in the languages that we use - both English and Chinese are our official languages, and we encourage our students to be biliterate and trilingual, i.e. to be proficient in English, Cantonese and Mandarin."  

     "With the closer economic integration between Hong Kong and China, the use of Mandarin in Hong Kong has become much more common in recent years. Hong Kong received over 22 million tourists from the Mainland China last year and there are about 600 Mainland companies listed in Hong Kong. We also have many bright Mainland Chinese students at our schools and universities. You will hear Mandarin widely used at our shops, at business meetings, and at social gatherings."

     She noted that the learning of Chinese has gathered pace in the United States. More and more schools and universities are offering Chinese courses each year. As Hong Kong is the gateway to China and also the platform for Chinese enterprises to go global, she would encourage all Chinese learners in the United States to visit the city and explore the tremendous opportunities the city can offer.

     During the final today, the contestants spoke about various aspects of Hong Kong that was of interest to them in a five-minute prepared speech as well as a two-minute impromptu question and answer slot, all in Mandarin.

     Associate Director of the Education and Chinese Language Initiatives of Asia Society, Mr Christopher Livaccari, commented on the performances of the finalists on behalf of the judging panel. He said all the finalists spoke very well and were articulate. "Having been a student and educator and now in my role here at Asia Society, today was a gratifying experience to see the fluency and proficiency in (Chinese) language you have achieved," Mr Livaccari said. "You guys are all incredible. Thank you because we in America need more people like you to be able to engage in other languages."

     The other four judges were President of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Greater New York (CLTA) and Director of the Confucius Institute at University of Rhode Island, Professor Wenchao He; Coordinator of the Chinese Language Programme at the Language and Communications Programme of United Nations, Dr Yong Ho; General Manager of Sing Tao Daily New York, Mr Rick Ho, and Director of New York ETO, Ms Anita Chan.

     The contest was held among students studying Chinese language courses in the universities in the Greater New York area (comprising New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) whose first language is not Chinese. More than 140 people watched the final round of the Hong Kong Cup Chinese Speech Contest. They included choruses of supporters and teachers of the contestants and Chinese language teachers of many institutes and universities in the area.  

     Co-hosted with CLTA, the contest was sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong Tourism Board, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited and Sing Tao Daily New York.

Ends/Sunday, October 9, 2011
Issued at HKT 10:11


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