Chinese students recite Petőfi’s poem

The János Arany Centre, founded in 2018 by Debrecen Summer University and Tianjin University of Foreign Languages, announced a pronunciation competition for Chinese students majoring in Hungarian language and literature, on the occasion of the day of the Hungarian language.

Sándor Petőfi would be 200 years old this year, and because of this, language students were invited to recite his poem Reszket a bokor, mert… (The Bush Trembles, Because…) in the framework of the competition. The applicants also had to choose an excerpt from a prose work, such as István Örkény’s short story Az élet értelme (The Meaning of Life), or Sándor Márai’s short stories A hazugokról (About the Liars) and Arról, hogy minden nap tovább kell menned (About That You Must Go On Every Day).

– We are very glad that besides the Hungarian language, we can also teach Hungarian literature and culture to language students at the Debrecen Summer University. In addition, we know that Hungarian pronunciation is quite difficult for Asians; so, it is remarkable that so many Chinese students wanted to take part in the competitions – Manager Péter Szaffkó said.

The competitors were required to send a video recording of their recitals to the Summer University, based on which the best performances were then selected. The competition was advertised and recommended by the János Arany Centre too, which operates in China. More competitors applied than ever before: not only students in China, but also Chinese students living in Hungary.

The greatest number of applications, seventeen, came from Jilin University of Foreign Languages, while thirteen students applied from Sichuan University of International Studies, and Tianjin University of Foreign Languages was represented by ten students. Péter Szaffkó said, the organizers never dreamed that the competition would be so popular: sixty videos were submitted until 1 November.

The final round was postponed from 13 to 20 November to give the jury enough time for the preliminary evaluation. The jury comprised Summer University Manager Péter Szaffkó, Training Director Edit Dobi, Coordinator of the Hungarian Faculty Hajnalka Katona, and from Tianjin University, Department Head Ma Xiaoxuan and Hungarian language teacher Zsóka Horváth.

The jury planned to select ten applicants for the final round, but eventually, sixteen students qualified for the final, due to the great interest. They had to recite a poem of Miklós Radnóti and another prose excerpt from Márai, online, through Zoom.

The winner was Wang Yulin (Sarolta) from Beijing International Studies University, who is currently a final year Bachelor’s degree student at Szeged University. Chen Yilin (Erika) from Beijing Foreign Languages University won second place, and Wu Ziping (Dorian) from the Communication University of China won third place.

The winner has been granted a two-week long scholarship for next year’s summer course at Debrecen Summer University. The students winning second and third place have been granted a discount of 100 and 50 percent, respectively, on the training fee of the first two weeks of the course.

PE/Press Centre