Team of Massachusetts High School Students Takes The Silver In China: Places Second In International "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Language And Culture Contest
Massachusetts's Alexander, Dunn and Spence Impress
Judges in China
BOSTON-Massachusetts high school students Robert Alexander,William (Colby) Dunn, and Michael Spence
placed second in the world, among teams representing 24 countries from across
the globe, in the first annual "Chinese Bridge" World High School Student
Chinese Contest-a challenge requiring students to demonstrate their Chinese
language and culture skills- held in Jinan City (Shandong province) in
Progressing through early rounds of the contest to the semi-finals
and then to the final round of international competition, the Bay State team
took second prize-Singapore came in first-by demonstrating superior skills in
speaking, writing and performing in Chinese. The strong performance earned Dunn,
Alexander and Spence trophies and six or 12 month scholarships (including travel
and accommodations) to study in China, awarded by the Hanban, the office of the
Chinese Language Council International.
The Massachusetts team was
sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute and also
supported by the Chinese Consulate in New York. All three students attend
Belmont Hill School and have studied Mandarin Chinese for a combined total of
eight years. They prepared for the global contest with the help of Jian
Gao, a teacher at Belmont Hill School.
"We were honored to represent Massachusetts in the contest. Traveling to
China was an incredible experience for the students and their chaperones-I am
very proud of their strong performance and strong finish in the competition. The
support of the University of Massachusetts opened doors for us and we could not
have achieved this success without it," said Gao.
Alexander resides in
Winchester; Dunn resides in Weston and Spence is from Randolph.
world becomes increasingly interdependent, developing foreign language skills
and an understanding of other cultures is critically important for students
today. The Chinese Bridge contest exposes students to language, cultures, people
and contemporary issues from an important nation- I commend these students for
their notable achievement," said University of Massachusetts President
Jack M. Wilson
For the past two years, the UMass Confucius
Institute has hosted the national "Chinese Bridge" Speech Contest; the
University's Institute, launched in 2006, is one of about 30 institutes of its
kind in the United States established by Hanban.
"We are very proud to
have helped these Massachusetts students participate in the international
'Chinese Bridge' contest and congratulate the Massachusetts team for finishing
among the top three teams in the world," said Dr. Marcellette G.
Williams, Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and
International Relations at UMass and Chair of the Board of the UMass Confucius
Institute. "Our Confucius Institute offers a wide array of programs and services
to individuals interested in studying Chinese language and culture-from hosting
Chinese language and cultural events, to important work on Chinese curriculum
development for community programs."
The contest, for high school
students between the ages of 15 and 20, was modeled after similar contests at
the college level and required the students to compete against teams from around
the world in speaking, writing and performing in Mandarin Chinese. A U.S.
national competition has been held for three years, but this was the first year
for an international "Chinese Bridge" competition held in China. The
Massachusetts team was one of two teams representing the United States, but was
the only U.S. team to progress to the semi-finals or finals. The 29 teams that
competed this year represented countries in Europe, North America, Africa and
Asia; the high school students traveled to China for the July 14-30
By some estimates, last year, approximately 60,000 American
students were studying Chinese in the U.S., while in China, 11 million students
are studying English. Massachusetts often ranks among the top two states in the
United States, along with California, for the number of high school students who
Photo Caption: In this photo,
Massachusetts high school students Robert Alexander, Michael Spence and
Colby Dunn (left to right) compete for the United States in the
'Chinese Bridge' international Chinese language and culture contest held in
Jinan City, China, last week, winning second place among teams of high school
students representing 24 countries across the globe. (Digital photo .jpeg
available upon request).