When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language?
I encountered the language in year 6 but I started to learn about it from year 9. I got inspired by the culture and history that the language had and then I chose to attend Christchurch Boys High School because I saw that they were offering to learn Chinese which made me carry on with the language.
Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience?
My Chinese learning journey started in year 9 where I learnt about the Chinese culture such as calligraphy, Chinese songs, movies, making Chinese dumplings etc. Leaning the stories about the Chinese characters which helped me understand what they meant. The most rewarding part of the experience was being able to participate in the Chinese Bridge competition where I got 2nd prize this year which made me eligible to participate in the International competition and also last year I got 3rd prize in the national competition which was the most rewarding part of the experience.
What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability?
Apart from being able to win prizes at the Chinese Bridge Competitions, I have been able to help many Chinese exchange students that have come to New Zealand and I have also been able to make new Chinese friends which has helped me interact with them in Chinese and helped me develop my Chinese language skills further. I feel I am more comfortable and confident interacting with Chinese people than before.
What do you like most about the Chinese culture?
Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular in the world but besides that I really like the rich history behind the culture and traditions that Chinese people have and the interesting things that the culture has. I am particularly interested in calligraphy and I won the 1st prize at the national Chinese calligraphy competition last year.
What are the most striking differences between Chinese and Kiwi culture?
One of the most striking differences would be that the Chinese culture is about family, tradition and community whereas in New Zealand people are more focus on individual. The Chinese culture has long history of traditions that people still follow such as they celebrate Chinese festivals. Recently we had a public holiday for Matariki day which was celebrating the Maori culture and New Zealand started to have cultural traditions. In Chinese culture people like to dress formally to all occasions and display their culture in what their wear, for example Chinese women like to wear a dress called qipao which displays their culture whereas in New Zealand culture they normally just wear a shirt and pants or a dress and don't display their culture as much as Chinese people.
Why do you think other New Zealanders should learn Chinese? Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of taking up the language?
I think that other New Zealanders should learn Chinese because it opens many different pathways for them in the future and it can help them in various aspects of life such as increasing employment prospects or interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds. The tips that I have is to regularly practice the language for 10 minutes a day and to enjoy learning the language and culture because that will make it easier to understand and to not be afraid and trust yourself when you are speaking.