Richard introducing his favourite local food Kokoda at the Chinese Bridge Competition.
A second year Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel Management student of The University of the South Pacific (USP) has been awarded with a six-month scholarship to study Mandarin in China.
Richard Derenalagi, who will commence his studies from next year, is excited at the opportunity to be awarded the scholarship.
Learning Mandarin as part of his elective units has opened overseas opportunities for Richard. He was chosen to represent Fiji in a Chinese proficiency competition in June earlier this year.
The "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition is a large-scale international annual contest sponsored by the Office of the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) in Beijing.
Richard scored the highest mark in his mid-semester test at USP which resulted in him winning a trip to China during the semester break in June.
As part of the competition, participants were required to deliver a speech in Mandarin, sit for an exam and do a Chinese cultural performance.
The scholarship came as a surprise for Richard as his main aim of studying at USP was to get a degree in hotel management and work in a hotel afterwards.
Coming from a popular tourist town, the Nadi-lad chose to study Mandarin as part of his Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel Management because he felt that there were increasing numbers of Chinese tourists in the country.
“My interest in learning Mandarin for one semester only turned out to be a life-long passion to speak the language fluently after my trip to China,” he said.
“I can say that I am lucky to be at USP and studying Mandarin has opened international opportunities for me,” he added.
Richard said that studying at USP was a decision made by his parents who encouraged him to choose USP as its courses are better recognised than other universities.
Richard said that his shy and timid nature was transformed within his two years of studies at USP.
He also said that he enjoys his Hotel Management courses at the University as there is a lot of practical work involved. According to Richard, team work, group discussions and presentations are core elements of tutorial classes.
“Because of the type of studies we take, I am confident that after graduation I will definitely get a job,” he said.
“One of the most interesting things I learnt that was related to my field of study was that the Chinese community are very good in preserving their culture when it comes to tourism. They are really good in using historical buildings to attract tourists. This has given me the idea that we can use a similar method in our country to attract tourists,” he said.
Richard said that he hopes to get his scholarship extended so that he can complete his Hotel Management studies in a Chinese university.
Head of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), Professor Marcus Stephenson said that STHM is working closely with the Confucius Institute to encourage its students to study Mandarin.
He added that it was part of their internationalisation strategy and is also a reaction to market trends in global tourism.
Professor Stephenson said that the school is very proud of Richard’s accomplishment.
“He has really worked hard to achieve his goals. He has been very proactive and industrious,” he said.
Professor Stephenson thanked the coordinator of the Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel Management, Mr Greg Cornwall who, according to Professor Stephenson had been very energetic in encouraging STHM students to learn Mandarin and understand the cultural intricacies of Chinese society.
Director of USP’s Confucius Institute, Dr Denggui Li said that there are a number of ways his institute opens international opportunities for Chinese language students. Some of them include recommendations to organisations that need Chinese speaking staff, assistance to internship opportunities in China and excellent students awarded trips to China to take part in the Chinese Bridge Competition annually.
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