A national Chinese language proficiency competition for Irish college students ended here on Sunday evening with the first prize award going to Felix O'Mahoney, a language student in her fourth year from University College Cork.
O'Mahoney will represent Ireland in the final competition of the 18th Chinese Bridge Competition of Chinese Proficiency for Foreign College Students to be held in Beijing this summer.
The competition, which is open to all college students with Irish citizenship, aged between 18 and 30, is organized by the Beijing-based Confucius Institute Headquarters, or called Hanban in Chinese, in collaboration with the Chinese embassy in Ireland, University College Dublin (UCD) Confucius Institute and the Irish Institute for Chinese Studies at UCD.
Chinese ambassador to Ireland Yue Xiaoyong, UCD President Andrew Deeks and nearly 100 people watched the final competition which was held at the auditorium of the newly constructed teaching building of UCD Confucius Institute.
The competition consisted of two parts, the preliminary competition and the final competition. After the preliminary competition held in the morning of Sunday, eight students from five universities in Ireland entered the afternoon's final competition which included a two-minute speech contest under the given topic "One World One Family" and a five-minute contest of Chinese arts performances such as Chinese songs, dances, musical instrument playing, dramas, martial arts, calligraphy and paintings.
With her excellent command of Chinese both demonstrated in speech contest and song performance, O'Mahoney conquered all the judges as well as the audience and won the title of the competition.
The competition also had two second prize awards and three third prize awards as well as two encouraging awards for the finalists.
Speaking after the prize awarding ceremony, Yue Xiaoyong said that the excellent performance and great enthusiasm of the contestants are really impressive and their interpretation of the speech theme "One World One Family" are very heartwarming and inspiring.
Andres Deeks said that "I hope the participants will continue to develop their skills so that they may contribute to the enhancement of a shared understanding between the peoples of Ireland and China."
Professor Liming Wang, Director of UCD Confucius Institute, who represents the foreign side of the institute co-run with Renmin University of China, said that recent years have witnessed an increasing demand for Chinese language learning in Ireland.
According to Wang, there are two Confucius institutes already in place in Ireland with the third one to be soon established in the country's west city of Galway. The other Confucius institute is located in the southern city of Cork.