“The sky is the same, and the earth is the same. Let us use Chinese as a bridge to make the world as one family,” Omar Abdelsalam, a student of Chinese Department of Cairo University, made the remarks in perfect Chinese.
On May 22, the finals of the 20th Chinese Bridge, a major international Chinese proficiency competition for foreign university students in Egypt, ended successfully. Abdelsalam and Veronica Shafik Riad, a female student from Suez Canal University, won the grand prize.
Hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Egypt and Confucius Institute at Cairo University, the competition attracted many students from Cairo University, Suez Canal University, Luxor University, Aswan University and other Egyptian universities, with 13 contestants reaching the finals.
In the keynote speech session of the competition, the contestants shared their experiences of learning Chinese, especially the moving stories of the Chinese and Egyptian people joining hands to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the talent show session, the contestants showed their love and deep understanding of Chinese culture through Kuaiban (Chinese rhythmic comic talk), tongue twisters, martial arts, tea art and other forms.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the competition was conducted online, bringing Abdelsalam and Riad to the global finals.
Abdelsalam, 21 years old, who is more accustomed to being called by his Chinese name Li Zhenghao, has been studying Chinese for more than three years.
“I have won awards in many Chinese competitions … I believe that learning Chinese is a real pride,” the young man told Xinhua.
At the beginning of last year, with excellent academic performance, Abdelsalam enthusiastically began to prepare for various procedures for studying in China. However, the sudden outbreak of the pandemic disturbed his plans.
“This made me feel sad, and for a while I did not know how things could go in the future,” the young man added.
Abdelsalam applied to attend an online course at China’s Shandong University after confirming that he could not study in China in the near future.
“When I saw that China effectively controlled the pandemic in a very short time, I suddenly felt that my little setback was nothing and could be solved,” he noted.
During the online course, he met many friends of different nationalities, and everyone felt that Chinese language had built a bridge for people thousands of miles apart to help each other.
From continuing to learn Chinese through online courses to witnessing the sincere cooperation between Egypt and China in fighting the COVID-19, Abdelsalam has realized the meaning of “a community with a shared future for mankind.”
“I hope I can become a messenger of cultural exchanges between Egypt and China,” Abdelsalam said proudly, pointing out that learning Chinese has helped him understand the great Chinese culture that can benefit humanity in all fields.
It is not only Abdelsalam’s belief that Chinese language can bridge the gaps between cultures and civilizations. His teachers as well believe that the Chinese language is a strong tool to achieve progress and development.
Gamal Elshazly, vice president of Cairo University, expressed hope that Chinese teaching and learning could become a bridge for cultural exchanges between Chinese and Egyptian people.
He stressed that such contests help students from around the globe get to know the rich Chinese culture as well as China’s efforts to make a bright future for mankind.
“This competition is also the best way to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Egypt,” Elshazly added.