When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language?
I started learning Chinese in year 9 through school. In year 7 I was lucky to go on a trip to China. I fell in love with the culture on the trip. We went to Beijing and saw historic landmarks like the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall of China, we also saw buildings like the Birds Nest, The National Centre for the Preforming Arts, and my personal favorite building the CCTV Headquarters. This trip inspired me to learn Chinese at year 9 when I started high school at Christchurch Boys' High. I love learning Chinese language so much, and I want to travel back to China in the near future.
Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience?
This year I have had the opportunity to participate in the National Chinese Speech competition where I got the award for best talent and achieved first place. with This year I have had the opportunity to participate in the South Island Chinese Speech competition where I got the award for best talent and achieved first place.
What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability?
Apart from the Chinese Speech Competition, I have also made many new Chinese friends and I have been able to help Chinese international students at school. Most of New Zealand's international students are from China. I have become more confident as I have learned Chinese through speaking to Chinese people in day to day life, such as ordering food in Chinese restaurants and willingly greeting Chinese people on street. The improved confidence in my interactions with Chinese people has helped me develop my Chinese language skills, and as Confucius said "Is it not delightful to have friends from distant quarters?
What do you like most about the Chinese culture?
I love Chinese Arts and Literature. In class we have learned how to design Beijing Opera Masks, paper cutting, and about Chinese Calligraphy. We have also learned about modern Chinese arts like the movies, The Wandering Earth and Mulan. I think learning about Chinese Arts and Literature can help improve your Chinese learning skills as well as understanding of the Chinese culture. I am also very much interested in Martial Arts. I'm learning Gong Fu Fan and my performance of Gong Fu Fan received the Best Talent award at the Chinese competition.
What are the most striking differences between Chinese and Kiwi culture?
Chinese culture is focused on unity and being proud of being Chinese. Chinese culture has many festivals which have a long history, such as Spring festival, Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn festival etc. Chinese people are proud of participating in the celebration of Chinese cultures. New Zealand has more Religious and Political celebrations. Fortunately, we started having Maori New Year celebration this year to celebrate Maori culture. Many New Zealanders are a lot more relaxed. New Zealanders often have a calm collected approach to situations where Chinese people are a lot more goal focused and push themselves to achieve their goals.
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 everyone in New Zealand should try and learn Chinese, because of the amount of opportunities that learning Chinese gives you. You will be able to make new friends, meet new people, get better job opportunities. Learning Chinese is great for you, China is New Zealand's largest trading partner. My main tip is that, learning Chinese may seem difficult but if you just do a little each day you will achieve your goals. A famous Chinese proverb 愚公移山 （yu gong yi shan) talks about the man who moved the mountain by moving a small amount each day, this is the same for Chinese Language learning and just doing a little each day will give you great success but you just need to start.