by Yosley Carrero
HAVANA, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Leidy Exposito, a student from Havana's Confucius Institute, managed to mount the winners' podium in the 2021 Chinese Talent Contest in Latin America and the Caribbean as the event organizer earlier unveiled the list of victors.
The enthusiast of Chinese culture, 22, was awarded the second prize in Chinese calligraphy, one of the three categories in the competition, which also included Chinese dance and traditional Chinese painting.
The contest, which was held online via video link, offered an excellent platform for foreign students to better understand the charm of the Chinese language, culture and history, she told Xinhua.
"To be honest, I started studying the new language to communicate with my Chinese boyfriend, who did not speak too much Spanish," she said. "But now I feel totally inspired to continue improving my skills as a Chinese language learner."
Co-sponsored by the Chinese International Education Foundation Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean and the ASA Panama Foundation, the contest aimed to spark the interest of youths in Chinese language and culture, and promote the friendship and communication between China and the region.
In total, 17 prizes were awarded by the jury during the contest, with four awarded to students from the Confucius Institute at the University of Havana.
One of them is Rosalia de la Caridad Grau, who won the third place in the category of traditional Chinese dance, after weeks of practice.
The 19-year-old enrolled at the institute five years, and now is studying telecommunications engineering at the Technological University of Havana Jose Antonio Echeverria.
"I always knew that learning Chinese could be difficult, but I like challenges," she said. "In addition, I want to be able to read most of the news and articles about technology, which are written in Chinese."
Meanwhile, the third prize winner in the category of Chinese traditional painting, Patricia Rivera, said China has deeply impressed the world with the achievements made by its people.
"I feel flattered and proud of being awarded in this contest. I feel committed to continue learning the different techniques used by Chinese painters," the 24-year-old painter said.
Over the past few years, learning the Chinese language and culture has become increasingly popular on the island, thanks to efforts made by social organizations and institutions, including Havana's Confucius Institute, from which thousands of students have graduated since its founding in 2009.
Yorbelis Rosell, director of the institute, told Xinhua that these awards are a testimony to the quality education of the center, as well as the great contribution made by Chinese and Cuban professors there.
"This contest has been very beneficial for our students, who have been encouraged to keep updated on Chinese language and culture despite the coronavirus pandemic," she said, adding that "the institute goes for more" in next year's edition.