If you told Trent Business student, Sharon Akhigbe 艾欣然, a year ago that she would not only represent the University in a Chinese language proficiency competition, let alone win it, she would have laughed and thanked you for the vote of confidence.
“At that time, I was unsure of my proficiency in any of my target languages, so I made a decision to take at least two language courses in my 2020/21 academic year,” says Sharon. “CHIN 1002H, being one of my chosen courses, broadened my vocabulary and improved my speaking proficiency, while CHIN 2100H served as an eye opener to the various Chinese culture, food, and proverbs. All of which I greatly utilized in the preparation for this competition.”
Sharon, who just completed her second year in Trent’s renowned School of Business, wanted to broaden her language skills and enrolled for Trent’s Chinese language courses, offered through the Trent Centre for Language and Linguistics.
“As a Business student who is planning to work internationally in the future, I strongly believe that learning Chinese not only gives me a competitive edge but also broadens my horizon to relate with future Chinese investors and clients,” says Sharon.
More than just a language course
Dr. Shaoling Wang, Sharon’s Chinese professor, encouraged her to enter the annual Chinese Bridge competition, which gives students from universities and colleges in Ontario and Manitoba the opportunity to showcase their Chinese language competence and cultural talent. Professor Wang has served as a competition adjudicator for the past six years, and has been encouraging students to participate in this event since 2010.
“Our Chinese courses are designed with student-centred activities and many practical elements,” says Prof. Wang. “Students are encouraged to participate in competitions, like the Chinese Bridge competition, as well as other events and activities such as participating in language festivals, Chinese opera appreciation workshops and radio show host training that introduce them to the Chinese culture and language.”
“It’s one thing to take a course, and it's another to have a competent professor and supporters who believe in and encourage you to push forward despite the obstacles,” says Sharon. “Having aced this phase, I hope to continually make Trent University proud and serve as an ambassador everywhere I go.”
The Chinese Bridge competition, now in its 20th year, took place on May 29 this year. Each participant had to give a two-minute speech, followed by a cultural talent section, for which Sharon sang a beautiful Chinese song accompanied by ukulele.
As the winner of the regional competition, Sharon will be recommended to participate in the global finale where she stands the chance to win a scholarship to further her studies in China.