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Bernhard Wilden completed both his elementary and secondary education in his native Germany, graduating in 2002. In 1997 he and his parents traveled to China on holiday where Bernhard immediately became interested in the Chinese language and in Chinese history and culture. Upon returning home, he set out to find a way to learn Chinese. The Wilden's secured the services of a teacher of Chinese at Cologne, beginning Bernhard's emersion in this ancient language. He made quick progress.
Soon after, Bernard's school held a competition in modern languages (i.e. French and English) and afterward offered a competition in Chinese as well. Bernhard was eager to enter, selecting as his subject Should the ancient Chinese alphabet characters be eliminated? The competition awarded three equal prizes at the conclusion of the contest, one of which was awarded to Bernhard. The award offered was a six week course of studies in Beijing at the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). This prize also included airline transportation and housing and meals for his time in the People's Republic of China.
Competition in modern languages: Winner of the award
Bernhard was only 17 at the time that he set out for 6 weeks at the BLCU. Bernhard and the other two prize winners lived for six weeks in Beijing as they experienced total language and culture immersion with no other interaction with local Chinese possible.
When he returned home, he was all the more committed to mastering Chinese and continued his studies during the last year of school. He soon became so proficient that he wrote numerous memos in Chinese in the pages of his school notes. It was at this same time that Bernhard desired to return to Beijing and the BLCU as a full time university student. Once he made his applications, Bernhard was accepted at the BLCU as a full time student in the Chinese language with the national government in Beijing offering him a scholarship program.
Bernhard began in Beijing his full time studies in 2002.