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GW students earned the top awards at the second annual Jiangsu Cup Chinese Speech Contest. Thirteen undergraduate finalists from five different schools in the greater Washington, D.C. area competed in the November 4th event sponsored by GW, Nanjing University, and the Jiangsu International Cultural Exchange Center of China. Gold Award winners Julian Panero, a senior majoring in Economics and Chinese Literature and Languages, and Todd Morrill, a student in the School of Business, were offered full scholarships for graduate study at Nanjing University in China. Silver award winners included Chinese Literature and Language majors Andrew Chester, Mark Timms, and Ian Evarhart, each of whom will receive a fully funded eight-day tour of Jiangsu Province in summer of 2013.
“The Jiangsu Cup provided a wonderful platform for our faculty and students to work hard together,” said Phyllis Zhang, director of the Chinese Program. “The generous awards provided by the Chinese sponsors will motivate our students to further their studies in Chinese languages and culture.”
The 13 finalists competed in two groups based on intermediate or advanced proficiency levels. All were required to make a self-introduction and answer improvised questions in Chinese. The intermediate group of contestants was required to deliver a pre-prepared speech and the advanced group gave an improvised speech based on randomly selected topics related to China.
Panero, who also won the Chinese Bridge Speech Competition in DC last spring, credits his gold medal to his professors in the Chinese program. “All of the teachers have always been there to help me and have encouraged me to learn as much as I can about Chinese,” he said. “Professor Xiaoning Chen, has been the main reason for my success; she dedicated an incredible amount of time to training me and all of the other students of Chinese who compete in these competitions. She and all the teachers have gone out of their way to help me and ensure that I will succeed.”
Following graduation in 2013, Panero plans to study economics or international business in graduate school.
The three GW silver medal winners are looking forward to their trip to Jiangsu—an eastern province on China’s Yellow Sea—this summer and are grateful for the support of their Chinese professors.
“I studied abroad in Beijing during 2011-2012, but I have not been to Jiangsu Province,” said Everhart. “I’m excited to see the gardens of Suzhou, the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum/ Museum complex, as well as try the cuisine of Jiangsu.”
“I believe that language is the key that opens up the door to understanding another country’s culture,” said Chester. “All of the contestants, including myself, have spent countless hours preparing for this contest, writing, re-writing, memorizing, and performing our individual presentations. Winning the silver medal was a great reward for our efforts.”
Timms agreed that the medal was validating for all the hard work he and the other GW students had invested with their professors in the department. He admitted that he first began studying Chinese to satisfy a requirement, but soon grew to love the language.
“The thing that most interests me about Chinese is also the thing that most frustrates me: its complexity,” said Timms. “Everything about Chinese is so different from English—the thousands of characters, the four tones of the language, the grammar structure—it makes it really fun and challenging to study.”