Two UWA students are the ‘golden boys' of a national Mandarin-speaking competition.
Andrew Chubb and Thomas Williams came first and second overall in the ninth annual Chinese Bridge Competition, a global contest for students of Mandarin to prove their expertise in general knowledge and cultural understanding as well as the spoken word.
The Australian champions are both third year students of Liyong Wang, coordinator of the Chinese Specialist unit and lecturer in Chinese language and culture in Asian Studies and at the Confucius Institute.
Andrew, who lived in China for 18 months before studying the language at UWA, won the public speaking component and the cultural performance and came third in the general knowledge section.
Thomas, a Fogarty Scholar, who is also studying Law, came second in speaking and cultural performance and second overall.
Another of their classmates, Justin Hewett, was second in general knowledge and third in public speaking.
"The Chinese Bridge is a competition of the highest standard for students studying Chinese all over the world," said Mr Wang. "The students in my class won nine out of a total possible 12 prizes. This is the first time in the nine years of the competition that one class has won almost everything.
"I am very proud of my golden boys," he said.
Their speech was about the World Expo which is currently in Shanghai.
The contestants could choose their own form of cultural performance. Some recited poems, sang popular songs and even performed folk dances.
Andrew sealed his place as the winner with a rendition of traditional story-telling, mimicking a famous Chinese story-teller, Shan Tianfang.
"That guy is my idol," Andrew said. An English language news service in China described his imitation as "sonorous and powerful".
Tom tried his hand at stand-up comedy - and succeeded. "I managed to put together between four and five minutes of comedy in Mandarin," he said.
"It wasn't too hard," said Andrew. "Weak jokes are an art form in China!"
Their off-beat sense of humour resulted in them choosing to be photographed for UWAnews sitting on the roof of the social sciences building.
Andrew and Tom will be heading off to the World Expo in Shanghai during the July break.
Published in UWA News, 14 June 2010.