Engineer Pursues Pop Stardom in China
Watch Harris' interview with Sinovision, a Chinese language news organization, about Harris' experience at Northwestern and in China.
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Fifth-year senior David Harris leads a dual life: In the United States he studies industrial engineering and Mandarin Chinese, but in China he was a singing star on the popular American Idol–like Chinese TV show Xing Guang Da Dao.
While studying abroad and then working at the U.S. Embassy in China in 2012, Harris played guitar and sang — in Chinese —with his neighbor and friend, Dali, in his free time. One day Dali brought Harris to the auditions for Xing Guang Da Dao. Months later, after Harris had returned to the States, Dali called to tell him he had been selected to compete.
The South Bend, Ind., native returned to China last summer for the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship. He also appeared on several other Chinese shows before filming Xing Guang Da Dao.
During fall quarter he spent a week in Beijing to film the show. Harris made it through the first round but was cut in the second (check out his performance at the 24-minute mark in this YouTube video). He returned to China during winter quarter to film a new show.
“Luckily my teachers have been very understanding, but it’s not easy,” he says. “The jet lag is the hardest part.”