When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language?

I briefly encountered the language in years 5 and 6 at primary school, but I then chose Chinese as my second language at college and have been studying Mandarin since.

Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience?

I began my journey in year 9 at Queen Margaret College and continued it through out high school gaining excellence endorsement in NCEA level 1,2, and 3. During my time at high school I competed in the Chinese Bridge Speaking competition and completed HSK examinations.

I originally wanted to take a gap year in China to further improve my language. Because of Covid I didn’t get the opportunity and took lessons with the Confucius institute in Wellington instead. I am now majoring in Chinese at Victoria University in Wellington and loving it!

Being able to sit on the bus or walk by and understand some phrases in Chinese when people are speaking in the language.

What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability?

I was incredibly lucky to be one of 20 high school students selected to go on a 2-week exchange to China with the Confucius Institute in Wellington. We got to experience what university was like in Xiamen, staying in a dorm as well as attending Chinese language and culture classes for a week. The facilities were incredible! Then for the last week we did some site seeing in Shanghai which was also incredible as we were able to interact with the locals and experience some of the Chinese culture.

What do you like most about the Chinese culture? 

THE FOOD! All jokes aside the diligence and friendliness of the people. Everyone was very enthusiastic and friendly when we were practicing our language while in China. It was lovely to be able to interact and communicate.

What are the most striking differences between Chinese and Kiwi culture?

I think the emphasis on education and work ethic are the striking differences between the two cultures. In China the work ethic is more focused on working hard and doing your best, having a large population creates competition. It's a lot more fast paced than New Zealand. In New Zealand we tend to be more relaxed, still hard working but at a more chilled pace.

Why do you think other New Zealanders should learn Chinese? Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of taking up the language?

Listening to the language as often as possible. I have found watching Chinese shows really helpful in understanding Chinese culture, but also colloquial language phrases that you wouldn’t necessarily learn otherwise.