(Notro Dame University, Indiana State, April 18, 2015)
Professor Chu Chengzhi, Members of Organizing Committee, Teachers and Students,
Today it is my great pleasure to join you at this opening ceremony of US Midwest Regional of the 14th "Chinese Bridge" International Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students.
Please allow me, on behalf of Consul General Mr. Zhao Weiping, my colleagues present today and the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago, to extend my warm welcome to you for coming to this competition.
I will keep my remarks as short as possible. Let me just to say a few key words.
First key word, Thank-you. The "Chinese Bridge" speech contest, sponsored by Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, has been a popular and prestigious event in the Midwest region for many years. Each year many American college students take an active part in this annual half-day event. I should say it is no easy job to host such a big event like this. I think we owe a lot to those universities in our consular district who had been hosting, supporting and sponsoring this program for past a dozen years. Northwestern University, Purdue University, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Indianan University-Bloomington, just to name a few. Without their generous support and hard work, the events would not be possible. I want audience to join me in giving those previous hosts a round of applaud. This is first thank-you.
Today here we are at Notre Dame University, the host of the event. I want to give special thanks to organizers, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, College of Arts and Letters, University of Notre Dame, and co-sponsors, Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures, College of Arts and Letters Office for Undergraduate Studies, for their tremendous efforts and excellent organization in making ideas become a reality. So please join me again for another round of applaud for organizers in Notre Dame.
My third Thank-you goes to the Judges. For the previous competitions, they had done a great job in grading and scoring. The devotion, professionalism and fair-play that they have demonstrated and upheld for all those years is a key to success of the event. So I suggest we give them a big hand-clapping!
My second key word is Share. I have been to this job as a Deputy Consul General in the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago for only a few months. It is my first time to visit Notre Dame University and speak in the opening ceremony of "Chinese Bridge" competition. There are more than 60 contestants representing 15 colleges from 7 states, contesting in four different divisions. Watching you here today reminds me of my college years studying English and those episodes in which I, just like you now, was participating in English speaking contest. Those moments are sweet memories now and I'll never forget, because those experiences have had huge impact on my career and my life later on. As you see now I end up working in the Foreign Service and serving my country.
So let me share with you a little bit of my experiences. Do not care too much about how well you can competes, how high your score is. Just relax, be yourself, enjoy the process. Eventually you will find it worthwhile and meaningful. Moreover the event is a good opportunity for you to mingle with each other and share your views and experiences on how to learn Chinese language and understand its culture. I wish all of you have a good time here at Notre Dame.
My third and last key word today is Hope. China is a country with 5000-year civilization and biggest population under leadership of the Communist Party. China has become No. 2 largest economy, second only to the USA. To some extent the destiny of the world depend on how China and the USA see and treat each other. Are a established power like US and a rising power like China are doomed to conflicts or even war? Some say yes and some say no. The debate is still going on. Though I don't know the answer, by being here looking at you I am getting more optimistic. Why? There are so many young American students studying Chinese in colleges and even in K-12 programs. So what you are doing now is part of answer to this question. By learning and trying to understand Chinese language and culture, by talking with Chinese friends and visiting China, you are doing a great deal of promoting people-to-people and cultural exchanges and you are truly ambassadors at the grass-root level. I believe you can make a difference to the future momentum of China-US relationship. That is hope I find on you.
Please allow me share a good news with you. Last year a student from the University of Minnesota chosen from this competition became the US champion and among top 5 in the final. Last night Professor Wang from the University of Minnesota told me that young man had been admitted to the School of Economics, Beijing University. Congratulations to him!
Once again, welcome to this year's "Chinese Bridge" speech contest. I wish everyone of you all the best and a good luck !
Thank you very much.