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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 14 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4237..


Australia China Friendship Society

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (5.10): A couple of Wednesdays ago I was privileged to present the prizes for the "If I had a panda"art competition run by the Australia China Friendship Society. The competition is run annually. It gives the students a chance to get artistic and develop their knowledge regarding a theme to do with China.

This year the competition involved imagining what you would do if you had a pet panda. Sixty-six children from various schools around the ACT aged between five and 14 years old participated in the event and received prizes. Students can enter with almost any form of creative work pertaining to the topic. Some options included sculptures, paintings, drawings, dioramas, poems and essays. I was very impressed and intrigued by the style of drawing used by some of the students. Many of the pandas were depicted with very large eyes, looking almost Anime style. This created a great effect and provided very amusing drawings.

In conjunction with the process of producing the artwork, the students learnt about the giant panda, which is currently only found in a few areas of central China. They learnt about what it is like, its nutritional requirements and conservation efforts. The topic goes hand in hand with many of the students' classes in Mandarin language. The education of children in languages other than English is a very important part of expanding their way of thinking, teaching them cultural understanding and building relationships with schools and students overseas to facilitate various physical and technological exchange programs.

Mawson Primary School has a wonderful immersion program for their students who want to excel in the study of Mandarin. The students have the option of studying for one to two days a week completely in Mandarin. This facilitates their development in Mandarin skills. Learning through absorption or L1 acquisition at a young age has proven the most efficient way to learn a second language. Mawson primary is also doing a great service to these young people by giving them this opportunity. Learning from a foreign language later in life can be very difficult to achieve. I congratulate Mawson primary for this.

Along with students from primary and high schools there were also competitors from the FCCCI Chinese School. This organisation ran the competition for the panda artworks and also runs classes in Mandarin on a Saturday. The two-hour classes are available to children of all ages and skill levels. They are run at a low cost to the student and their parents and present a great opportunity, particularly for students in high school wishing to do well in Mandarin. Along with language classes, the FCCCI also offers drawing and calligraphy classes. This is an excellent program run by the association. I commend them for their efforts.

I wish to extend thanks to the various people who were involved in organising this great event. Firstly, I thank the president of the ACT branch of the Australia China Friendship Society, Carol Keil, who played a major part in the organisation of the competition and awards event. The work she does with the society is truly an


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