Paul: Aspiring to be Ambassador of Cultural and Friendly Exchanges between China and Costa Rica

[Source]    Confucius Institute at the University of Costa Rica [Time]    2018-08-10 14:50:45 

On August 4th, the 17th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students came to an end. Paul, a student from the Confucius Institute at the University of Costa Rica performed well and stood out among 152 contestants from 118 countries. He made it to the top 15 and eventually won the second prize of the “Chinese Bridge” competition, snatching the best result ever since Costa Rican contestants had taken part in the competition.

Paul in “Chinese Bridge” competition

Looking tall and handsome, the studious student proficient in Chinese is modest and polite. He is not only a master of Chinese, but also a “dancing prince”. Aiming high, he was determined to be Costa Rican Ambassador to China since the moment he came to the advanced-level Chinese class at the Confucius Institute to promote friendly relations between the two countries.

A Top Student and “Dancing Prince”

Paul was wearing a neat shirt and a pair of well-ironed trousers the first time he attended the advanced-level Chinese class at the Confucius Institute. When introducing himself, he said, “I love singing, dancing, and playing football, and I prefer wearing shirts and trousers. As I am majoring in economics and law, I think, formal dressing is more in line with my majors. I studied Chinese in China for a year; before that, I couldn’t utter one single Chinese sentence, but now I’m capable of talking freely with the Chinese. But I don't know much about Chinese history and culture, and I need to study more.”

Speaking of his reasons for learning Chinese, he said, “First, I am a lover of Chinese language and culture. Second, I have a dream that I could be a Costa Rican Ambassador to China and establish a bridge of friendship between the two countries one day.” In the later days of studying Chinese, he was not just an armchair strategist, but advanced one step at a time, leaning closer to his dream little by little. He had been persisting in learning Chinese no matter it was the hot days in dry seasons, or the stormy times during rainy seasons. Gradually, his potential of being a top student began to show.

In the advanced-level Chinese class, Paul is always enthusiastic about expressing his viewpoints and ideas and helping other students improve their language skills. Particularly, in group discussions, he would take initiative to implement their tasks, help his group members clear their minds as well as organize and polish their language; then they would efficiently finish their assignments together.

Paul in class activities

In class, Paul is an excellent student who displays a high level of diligence, strength of mind and teamwork spirit. After class, he is passionate about participating in various cultural activities. In January 2017 during the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Confucius Institute held a Chinese New Year celebration at the China Street. Back then, Paul was injured from playing football. The temporary injury, however, did not stop him from participating in the event. He still joined in the Confucius Institute booth, and actively took part in the activities regardless of inconvenience. At that time, he faltered, but still talked with everyone cheerfully, tasted Chinese food happily, and watched the dragon and lion dances, experiencing traditional Chinese culture. It shows his love to, obsession with and persistence in Chinese culture.

Paul taking part in cultural experience activities

Paul is also the “dancing prince” at the Confucius institute. This April, the Institute held a grand party of teachers and students. Paul, skilled in singing and dancing, certainly did not miss the opportunity to join in. Li Hua, Chinese Director of the Institute, once taught drama performance and creative writing at the School of Foreign Languages at Renmin University of China and was well received by students. Good at acting and being creative, Li hit it off with Paul right away the first time they met. After knowing that Mrs. Li also loves dancing, Paul gave full play to his strength as the “dancing prince” and invited Li to a Latin dance. Their dancing was full of vigor, passion and dream, pushing the atmosphere to the climax.

Excellent Performance in the “Chinese Bridge” Competition

In May 2018, Paul signed up for the “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students. In the preliminary contest of Costa Rican division, Paul, in his speech, described the Chinese friends he made while studying in China and their deep friendship forged through the Chinese language. He also said that “One World, One Family”, a well-known ancient Chinese saying, was not merely a wonderful vision, but also could be a reality through the efforts of everyone. In the talent show of the competition, Paul interpreted the Chinese story of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” vividly through his acting. By performing different practices of the two brothers in the “naked town”, an imaginary place in the story, he illustrated the importance of adapting to each other’s customs.

In the end, Paul won the recognition of the judges and the audience present with his brilliant performance and won the championship of the Costa Rican division.

Chinese Ambassador to Costa Rica presenting award to Paul

Competition in Costa Rican division of “Chinese Bridge”

Paul, in the following month, began to make intensive preparations for the final of the “Chinese Bridge”. He followed his tutor’s advice with an open mind, and played to his advantages creatively.

“The saying that ‘One World, One Family’ symbolizes a spirit of this era,” said Paul in a speech on July 10th, the day “Crossing the bridge” competition (writing, speech and talent show) took place. “But we encounter all kinds of conflicts and contradictions in daily life, even misunderstandings with our family. So what can we do? The vital point is to ‘emulate those with virtues and talent’. Only by being a role model can we persuade others and realize the beautiful dream of ‘One World, One Family’ together.”

Paul advancing to the top 30

In the talent show, Paul played a dancing robot. After hearing a piece of Chinese traditional ethnic music The Girl from Dabancheng, the “robot” played by him performed a Chinese Xinjiang Dance; after hearing the music of a Latin dance, he did a modern Latin one... His dancing was lively, his steps were unrestrained, and the passion he showed gave rise to loud cheers from the audience. The show aimed to connect people of different civilizations through dance, so as to enhance mutual understanding and knowledge among people from different countries, races or nationalities. It also meant to advocate the harmonious coexistence and integration of human civilizations, realizing “everyone belongs to one family in a united world” promoted by the Confucian School.

On that day, Paul performed well and the audience responded enthusiastically. He, therefore, made it to the top 30 and got the highest score in the history of the Costa Rican contestants.

Aspiring to Become Costa Rican Ambassador to China

On July 13th, Paul climbed to the top 15 and then the top 3 in the American group, breaking a new record. On July 27th, the eighth contest of the “Chinese Bridge” took place. The competition was extremely intense. “It’s a shame I didn't make to the top 5 in the final,” Paul said to his tutor. Nevertheless, I’m still honored to represent Costa Rica to come this far.” For Paul, the “Chinese Bridge” is not the end of the journey of his Chinese learning, but the starting point for him to realize his diplomat dream. It is hoped that in the future, Paul will sail afar by means of the east wind of the “Chinese Bridge”, and soon become an ambassador of cultural and friendly exchanges between the two countries.

Paul making it to the top 15

Paul entering the top 3 in America

After participating in the “Chinese Bridge”, a feast of knowledge and culture, Paul harvested rich knowledge and profound friendship. He has taken a firm step on the road towards becoming an ambassador.

At present, the Confucius Institute at the University of Costa Rica has been promoting active and effective cooperation with Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education, the Chinese Embassy in Costa Rica, and the Academic Committee of the University of Costa Rica. They are striving to establish a Chinese language department at the University of Costa Rica by 2019 to lay solid groundwork for the follow-up work. In the future, more brilliant Chinese language talents like Paul will be trained to inject greater vitality to the development of the friendly China-Costa Rica relations.

Story by Zhou Wei


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