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Nairobi, May 25, 2023 - The Confucius Institute at Kenyatta University hosted the highly anticipated 16th Annual Chinese Bridge Competition on May 25th, 2023. The competition, organized by the Center for Language Education and Cooperation, aims to showcase Chinese language proficiency among learners and foster cultural exchange between China and the world.

Ten prestigious high schools from Nairobi, including Maryhill Girls, Statehouse Girls, Starehe Boys Center, Sukari Presbyterian Junior High School, Dagoreti Mixed Academy, Karima Girls, and Alliance Boys, participated in the competition. After the temporary interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the event successfully resumed this year, attracting enthusiastic participants. The competition spanned three categories: speech, talent shows, and knowledge about Chinese language and culture. Participants faced a rigorous selection process and had to meet specific criteria, including being high school students aged between 15 and 18 years, with proficiency in Chinese or being native speakers.

The grand prize for the winner of the competition is a fully-funded trip to China, where they will represent Kenya and compete with first prize winners from other countries around the globe. This remarkable opportunity allows the winner to further their understanding of Chinese culture and language while fostering international connections.

In light of this, Mr. Fred Oanda, the Director of Accreditation and Outreach at the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA), delivered an inspiring speech during the event. He highlighted the partnership between TVETA and the Confucius Institute, emphasizing the equivalence of the Chinese language program to a level 6 program at TVETA. Mr. Oanda encouraged high school students to pursue Chinese as a language of the future, considering its status as the world's third most spoken language after English. He also emphasized the importance of developing curricula that align with future needs and creating lifelong skills through higher education.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that Dr. Susan Mutune, the Assistant Director of Radio and Media at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, spoke about the optional nature of Chinese language learning in schools. She urged students to freely choose languages based on their career aspirations, highlighting the relevance of Chinese for those interested in working in hotels, tourism companies, and various industries. Dr. Mutune emphasized the practicality of the Chinese language course, which equips students with effective communication skills, writing abilities, and cultural knowledge. She encouraged high school students to consider Kenyatta University as their institution of choice, as it offers comprehensive courses to support their career paths. Dr. Mutune assured students that there is a growing demand for Chinese teachers, with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) ready to support and absorb qualified graduates.

During the remarks session, the Vice-Chancellor's commitment to excellence was eloquently conveyed by Prof. Thoruwa on his behalf. Emphasizing Kenyatta University's unwavering dedication to delivering top-notch education, fostering scholarship, and nurturing a culture of innovation and creativity. He acknowledged the longstanding partnership with the Chinese Embassy, which has facilitated market-driven programs and the presence of Chinese volunteers and lecturers to enhance Chinese language teaching and cultural understanding. The Vice-Chancellor emphasized the significance of the Chinese Bridge Competition in exposing participants to life-changing opportunities and promoting mutual understanding between Kenya and China. He urged students to showcase their brilliance and language abilities throughout the competition, underscoring the value of proficiency in Chinese for global competitiveness.

The presence and support of the Chinese Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Kenya were gratefully acknowledged by the Vice-Chancellor. He expressed confidence in the positive outcomes of their collaborative efforts, empowering and equipping the younger generation with the skills needed to excel globally and transform Kenyan society. The Vice-Chancellor emphasized the mutual benefit and fruitful relationship between Kenya and China, envisioning future growth in faculty exchange, joint research, and development between the two nations.

The 16th Annual Chinese Bridge Competition promises to be a memorable event, encouraging cultural exchange, linguistic competence, and lasting connections between Kenya and China. With each passing year, the competition strengthens ties, fosters mutual understanding, and opens doors to exciting opportunities for participants, solidifying the bond between these two nations.

Kenyatta University Commemorates World Mental Health Awareness Week with a Focus on Challenging Stigma.

On Friday, May 19th, 2023, Kenyatta University took part in the global mental health awareness week by organizing a series of activities under the theme of "Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders - 'The Siamese Twins': Addressing the Stigma." The event, coordinated by the Department of Psychology in collaboration with various university directorates and the International Consortium of Universities on Drug Demand Reduction (ICUDDR), aimed to observe the Mental Health Month. The highlight of the week was a symbolic walk, led by Vice-Chancellor Prof. Paul Wainaina, also the Chief-Guest at the forum, which started at the university's main gate and ended at the Kenyatta University Business and Students Services Centre (BSSC).

The walk marked the opening of the Awareness Week, which coincided with the international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social media stigma. Dr. Eunice Githae, Chairperson of the Psychology Department, delivered the welcoming remarks at BSSC Room 14, emphasizing the importance of collective action in addressing the stigma surrounding mental health. Dr. Githae stated, "We walked to discover a renewed purpose in matters of mental health, showing we don't have to walk alone because there is a stigma surrounding mental health. We should build up a synergy to make the world know who we are." She also acknowledged the participation of various university departments and sectors in the mental health awareness conversation.

Consequently, Dr. Matilda, representing Dr. Simon Njuguna, Director of Mental Health, MOH, commended Kenyatta University for organizing the event, highlighting the significance of mental health awareness for overall health and social well-being. She reiterated the Ministry of Health's commitment to addressing mental health issues and supporting such initiatives to improve mental health for the nation. Ms. Hilda Nyareso, Chief Operations Officer, Shamiri Institute - which is a data-driven organization transforming youth mental health - expressed enthusiasm for joining the initiative and highlighted the institute's app, RAFI, which has been widely embraced by Kenyatta University students. Mr. Patrick Kariuki from Wonderpeace Rehab Center expressed gratitude for the collaboration with Kenyatta University, while Ms. Susan Maua,Program Manager, NACADA, representing Prof. John Muteti, acting CEO of NACADA, emphasized the challenges posed by substance abuse, including alcohol, khat, tobacco, and cannabis.

Vice-Chancellor Prof. Paul K. Wainaina, represented by Prof. Waceke Wanjohi, DVC Academics, extended appreciation to the participants, partners, sponsors, and guests for their involvement in the procession walk. The Vice-Chancellor acknowledged the prevalence of substance abuse on campus and emphasized the university's commitment to addressing the root causes and providing support services to safeguard the mental health of both students and staff. The combination of anxiety and substance use was highlighted as a significant trigger for mental illness, reinforcing the need to combat stigma, raise awareness, and implement comprehensive interventions.

To conclude, he announced the annual observance of the event and its inclusion in the Kenyatta University calendar of events. Dr. Beatrice Kathungu, Director of Accommodation, delivered a vote of thanks, and the objectives of the mental health event were outlined, including creating awareness of mental health and associated risk factors, highlighting the relationship between mental health and substance use disorders, and addressing contemporary issues in mental health. Additional activities throughout the week included TV talk shows, webinars, outreach clinics, and the launch of support groups.

This way, Kenyatta University plays a vital role in raising awareness, challenging stigma, and promoting mental health and well-being within the community.

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