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MANDARIN IMMERSION STUDENTS from the Redwood City School District (RCSD) demonstrated their Asian language skills with fluency and confidence in the final round of the U.S. Chinese Bridge to America Contest.

The award-winning students applied what they have studied in RCSD’s Mandarin Immersion Program by participating in the national competition organized by the San Francisco Chinese Consulate this June, showcasing their linguistic and cultural talents.

Representing Orion Alternative School and the RCSD, three students were nominated by the judges for demonstrating exceptional ability.

Third place nationally went to second-grader Saoirse Rafferty, who wrote the song “Protect the Earth” in Mandarin and sings it in Mandarin.

Fourth-grader Emma Chui and second-grader Tessa Lin achieved honorable mention for their acting, singing and dancing skills in Mandarin songs.

The Chinese Bridge Competition is the highest level of Mandarin competition organized by the Chinese Consulate for non-native students in the United States, and has been referred to as “the Olympiad of Chinese language learners.”

It is worth noting that only 12 students participate in the final round of the contest, which showcases students’ language skills in Mandarin.

The Chinese Bridge Contest included a speech, a question and answer session with the judges and a talent performance. Orion students presented singing and dancing videos highlighting their knowledge of Mandarin language and culture.

Chinese Bridge contests for junior high, high school and university level have been held for 20 years, while the primary level contest is in its second year for non-native speakers under the age of 14.

RCSD’s Mandarin immersion program for grades K-8 brings together Mandarin and English speaking students and families to give them the opportunity for a promising future of being bilingual, bi-literate and academically enriched.

The K-5 program is located at Orion Alternative School and feeds into Kennedy Middle School for 6-8, the RCSD said in a statement.

Mandarin is the most widely used language in the world with more than one billion speakers, so learning Mandarin as a child provides the tools to function better in the world of the future.

“Giving them an education with a third language like Mandarin is the greatest gift for my children,” says Omalis Villanueva, a native of Veracruz and mother of three children enrolled in the program.

About the program

The Mandarin immersion program at Orion School in Redwood City has won several competitions. It focuses on English and Mandarin proficiency in kindergarten through 5th grade at Orion Alternative School, which is located at 555 Ave Del Ora, Redwood City, CA 94062, and 6th through 8th grade at Kennedy Middle School.

Those interested may register at their neighborhood school. Apply for the School of Choice and request Mandarin immersion. 

You can register on the district’s website. Or, make an appointment to register with district office staff by calling 650-482-2200 (press 0) or sending an email.

Peninsula 360 Press is a collaborative media outlet with news from Redwood City and the Peninsula, Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Latin America, Asia and Europe.

This story originally appeared in Peninsula 360 Press.