N Z C L W   Y O U T H  A M B A S S A D O R S  2 0 2 2

Meet our NZCLW Youth Ambassadors. These extraordinary high school students have shown remarkable talent at learning the Chinese language, finishing in the top places of the New Zealand Chinese Bridge Speech Competition. 

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William Sok

Rotorua Boys’ High School

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

I began learning Chinese when I was a year 9 student at Rotorua Boys’ High School. I was inspired to learn Chinese because it presented me with an opportunity to learn about another language and culture. 

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

I have found that the most rewarding part of the experience is being able to enrich my own learning with the wonders of Chinese history and culture as it is very ancient and fascinating. It allows me to appreciate the language I am learning even more. 

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

Some of the opportunities that have opened up for me as a result of my Chinese speaking ability include being able to converse with other Chinese speakers to a competent degree, and it has opened up the possibility of being able to travel freely in China without fear of getting lost as I understand the language now.

What do you like most about Chinese culture?

I love Chinese culture because it is very ancient and diverse. There is a lot to be learnt from it and how it has influenced neighbouring cultures, which I find in and of itself to be a very fascinating aspect.

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

One is enshrined in western values and the other is enshrined in eastern values. Furthermore, Chinese culture is significantly much older than kiwi culture and has changed to some degree over the centuries.

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

I believe learning Chinese or any other language for that matter is a very good opportunity for oneself to learn another culture and connect with other people. As for tips, remember to practice as many times as possible and engage in the language by reading or watching material in the language itself, as well as practicing the language with native speakers, so that you can understand and form a foundation in the language and it how it works. 

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Joshua Taiga Smith

Rotorua Boys' High School

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

I started learning Chinese three years ago when I was a year 9 student of Rotorua Boys' High School. I have always thought that learning another language is a very good learning experience, to learn the countries and its culture. So seeing that Chinese was an option at Rotorua Boys' High School, I decided to take it as one of my subjects.

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

My Chinese language learning journey so far has been a very fun and interesting one, as I have been able to be confident when I speak Chinese to natives whenever I meet with them. I know that learning Chinese is a long process that takes time and dedication to master, and I am excited to continue my studies into the language and culture. The most rewarding part of my Chinese experience was when I received 2nd place in the Wellington region of the Chinese Speech Competition, as when I heard that both me and William both got through to the next round it felt like all the effort has finally paid off. 

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

Some of the opportunities that have opened up due to my Chinese speaking ability is me doing able to use these skills in the real world. As know I am able to converse with Chinese people, as well as enrich myself in their rich culture. 

What do you like most about Chinese culture?

The thing I like the most about Chinese culture is the language, specifically the characters. As these characters all have meanings, as well as stories behind them which interests me very much. 

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

The most striking difference between Chinese and Kiwi culture is that they are completely different from one another. Kiwi culture is more western based and as such, one who is not familiar with eastern values and traditions are more than likely going to experience a culture shock when they arrive in China.

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

I think that other New Zealanders should learn Chinese as it is something that will be completely new to them. As they will be able to learn about a different part of the world. Some tips I have for people thinking about taking up the language is to enjoy the experience. As enjoying the experience will accelerate your learning as when you enjoy something you will be more invested in improving. 

Rahil Krishna

Christchurch Boys High School

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 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 those 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. 

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Ryan Mansbridge-Croy

Christchurch Boys High School

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?

I started my Chinese language journey in Year 9. I always thought learning Chinese would be very hard, but as I started to learn I found that Chinese is a very fun language to learn. The more I studied Chinese the better I got at it and the more fun I found it. 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. I am now preparing for the International Chinese Speech Competition. The Chinese Speech competition has helped me develop my Chinese speaking skills as well as my confidence in public speaking.

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 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 those 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.

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Will Murphy

Sacred Heart College (Auckland)

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

2018, I enjoyed the challenge of learning something completely different. 

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

The most rewarding part of my Chinese language learning journey has been all the opportunities, both personal and academic such as this which have come up. 

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

Participating in the international Chinese speech competition 

What do you like most about Chinese culture?

Stories, myths, and legends. 

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

The competitive and strict nature of schooling in China is not in New Zealand, here it is much more relaxed and is about each person succeeding in their own way. 

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

Try to speak as much as possible, and read basic things like kids’ picture books to help your understanding. 

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Rio Faleafa

Western Springs College

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

I started learning Chinese in 2017. I wanted to learn Chinese because I had heard it was an interesting and unique language. At the same time, I felt like Chinese was going to be a very important language in the future, and that further inspired me to take up the language 

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

The most rewarding part of my experience was learning an important skill, that I think will benefit me in the future. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed learning Chinese, thats part of the reason why I've continued studying the language. 

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

Several different opportunities have opened up for me, including speech competition and more. I also think that in the future my Chinese language skills will definitely help me in terms of job opportunities. 

What do you like most about Chinese culture?

One of the biggest differences between the two cultures is that Chinese culture has been heavily influenced by the deep ancient history. 

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 those thinking of taking up the language?

I think other New Zealander's should start learning Chinese because China is becoming an even more important to New Zealand economically, so I think speaking Chinese will become incredibly helpful. For those who are taking up the language, I think persistence is key.