August 28 was a big day for Roussillat Sebastien, a 22-year-old French student at Shandong Normal University, because he won the championship title at the 4th "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Contest for Foreign Students in China, a competition of Chinese language skills.
Roussillat Sebastien (third R), a 22-year-old French student at Shandong Normal University, talks to his classmates.
"I am very happy winning the contest," Roussillat said in proficient Chinese. "The contest gave me confidence about doing something for cultural communication between China and France."
Organized by the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language - or Hanban - the "Chinese Bridg" competitions have become a major draw for foreign students learning Chinese language and culture.
The first "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Contest for Foreign Students in China was held in 2008. This year's contest attracted 100 students from 45 countries.
"Judging from his performance, I know he deserves the title," teacher Guo Wenjuan said. "I'm very impressed by his diligence in learning Chinese."
Guo was echoed by Liu Wei, whom Roussillat met after coming to China.
"We live together. Roussillat Sebastien seldom speaks English and French in China because he wants a complete Chinese-learning environment," Liu said.
Roussillat is better known among his Chinese friends as Ying Xiong, a name he earned for his courage to speak Chinese as a novice.
However, Roussillat's enthusiasm for Chinese doesn't stop at the speaking of Chinese. He is also good at Chinese culture.
For example, he knows how to appreciate tea and how to make dumplings.
"Ying Xiong's homework frequently touches on Chinese history and poetry, making me feel his deep understanding of Chinese culture," said Zhang Jiehong, Roussillat’s current Chinese teacher.
When asked about his future plans, Roussillat said he hopes to engage in communication affairs between China and France.
"I hope to be a teacher of Chinese when I'm back in France. This will help promote communication between the two countries," he said.
Speaking of his achievement, Roussillat didn't forget to give thanks to Shandong Normal University.
"My teachers gave me a lot of instruction," Roussillat said.
The critical moment in the contest, when he secured the win by giving the correct answer to the question about where Longjing Tea is planted, is still fresh in the Frenchman's mind.
(China Daily September 5, 2011)