Northwestern Students Excel at 2019 Midwest College Student Chinese Speech Contest
Six Northwestern students won awards at the 2019 Midwest University Chinese Speech Contest at Loyola University Chicago in April.
Competing against 40 contestants from 16 universities across six states, the Northwestern students showed off not only their Chinese speaking ability but also their knowledge of Chinese culture and tradition. The students learned their Chinese language skills by taking classes in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures (ALC).
Julia Borland, a freshman, won the silver medal in the 2nd Year Chinese Group for demonstrating her expertise in Chinese paper-cutting. Sophomore Ethan Chow received a bronze medal for reciting a poem; sophomore Pang Shen and freshman Maggie Luo won silver medals for singing and calligraphy, respectively, and Na Na Sheehan, a sophomore, won the gold medal in the Heritage Group for her dance performance.
Weinberg sophomore Afrasiab Mian won the gold medal in the 4th Year Chinese Group for rapping in Chinese about how much fun he was having learning the language, and rapping and participating at the contest. He wrote the rap himself, mostly in Chinese, and partly in English.
Since Mian won the highest group, he was chosen to go to China to compete in the World Chinese Speech Contest, which will be hosted by Hanban, an office within the Chinese Ministry of Education. It’s also known as the Office of Promoting Chinese Language Learning in the World. Every year they invite around 100 of the best Chinese language learning students from around the world to compete, and the winners receive scholarships to study in Chinese universities.
“I have been organizing this contest for years now, and I have never seen anyone rapping in Chinese!” said Li-Cheng Gu, a Professor of Instruction in the Department.
Gu has been organizing the contest for 18 years as part of the Chinese language program and arranged for Northwestern to host the competition from 2001 to 2009. Since 2010, universities across the Midwest, including Purdue University, University of Minnesota and Loyola University Chicago, have rotated hosting responsibilities.
“The contest provides an opportunity for Northwestern Chinese language students to learn from other Chinese language students,” Gu said. “When they come home, they will not only bring medals and prizes, but also rich knowledge about Chinese language and culture.”