Turkish high school and middle school students tested their knowledge of Chinese against each other in a fierce competition in a bid to build cultural bridges between Turkey and China and to have the opportunity to visit China.
Thirteen contestants from Ayrancı Anatolian High School, Ankara Atatürk High School and Kavaklıdere Secondary School gathered yesterday in the first Hanyu Qiao Chinese Bridge Competition organized through the cooperation of the Cultural Undersecretary of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, the Culture Ministry and the three schools.
Speaking about the competition, Cultural Counselor to the Embassy Shi Ruilin stressed that this competition was being held for the first time for high school and middle school students.
Noting that the winner of the competition will be sent to China as a Turkish representative for the semi-finals of the international Hanyu Qiao Competition, Ruilin underscored that the competition will contribute to efforts to strengthen cultural bilateral relations, finishing his speech with a poem by the influential bard and philosopher Yunus Emre who lived in the 13th century.
Excited to put their knowledge to the test in front of an audience, the contestants dressed in traditional Chinese clothes and school uniforms and briefly introduced themselves in Chinese in the first part of the competition. Later, they demonstrated their Chinese proficiency by singing songs, telling jokes and stories, and reciting tongue twisters.
In the second part of the competition, the contestants exhibited their talents, ranging from traditional dances, the moon dance, the shadow dance and playing Chinese music with a band formed by the students. After a short break, the winners were announced: Merve Şakaoğlu came in first, Elif İlayda Canbolat in second and Zeynep Eda Songül in third. The competition was followed by a Chinese-Turkish cultural festival where poetry recitations and traditional dances from both countries were featured.
This event was not the first time the geographically distant but culturally close countries organized cultural exchanges. In addition to Chinese language graduate/master's courses and similar competitions and festivals in universities, numerous high schools, including those mentioned above, offer intense Chinese courses as their first foreign language in the institution. The embassy also offers scholarships to Turkish students who are interested in China, one example being Buse Türkyılmaz, who has shown great proficiency in Chinese in her school and was awarded a scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year to study international relations at a Chinese university.
In China, the number of universities offering Turkish language courses is also increasing day by day. Currently, there are eight universities offering programs, including the Turkish Studies Department of Peking University, and there is a growing demand for Turkish in universities, especially after the introduction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Accordingly, the Yunus Emre Institute (YEE) conducts activities to reach out to Chinese citizens by promoting Turkish culture and language.
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