New Zealand Chinese Language Week: Promoting a wider understanding of Chinese culture

It’s Chinese language week in Auckland, New Zealand. Many teenagers are participating. Owen Poland has this report.

A traditional lion dance signalled the start of New Zealand’s Chinese Language Week before high school students from several major cities demonstrated their skill speaking Mandarin.

For many winners of the regional speech competitions, like Anna Riley, it’s also an opportunity to show a wider understanding of Chinese culture.

ANNA RILEY Student Wellington High School “It’s always been something very new and very interesting to me just because it’s so different to what western culture’s like, so yeah, I was just really interested in like broadening my knowledge of the world.”

New Zealand’s Chinese Language Week is now in its eighth year, and there’s growing support for an event that bridges the cultural gap.

JO COUGHLAN Chairperson, New Zealand Chinese Language Week Trust “Well, I think sharing a language just enables people to be ultimately more tolerant and inclusive, just leads to greater understanding.”

Chinese cross-talk injects humour into the conversation, and has added benefits for school friends William and Joshua.

WILLIAM SOK Student Rotorua Boys High School “We’re able to practice our Chinese speaking abilities in more ways than one, you know, because we have to engage with an audience, make sure that they laugh, which is pretty hard to do in a language that we’re not completely familiar with, right?”

Among the audience was China’s Ambassador to New Zealand who was suitably impressed by the various performances.

DR. WANG XIAOLONG Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand “I was so amazed by the level of proficiency achieved by some of the boys and girls.”

And for many students it’s an opportunity to build the foundation for a future career.

JOSHUA SMITH Student Rotorua Boys High School “I definitely want to work overseas as a businessman, so Chinese will be a very useful skill to have, especially with talking to more people.”

And as New Zealand celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relations with China in 2022, the Ambassador says Chinese Language Week lays a foundation for the next fifty years.

DR. WANG XIAOLONG Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand “With the knowledge about the language and the culture with the friends they make, I think they will make wonderful ambassadors of the people between the two countries.”




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