Written by Phyllis Zhang
with contributions from Caleb Dependahl and Amanda James
Photos by Phyllis Zhang and Gengyun Wei
The 9th Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition at the Washington site was held on April 16 at the University of Maryland. Twenty American students from eight universities competed in this event. Two GWU students, Caleb Dependahl (戴永凯）and Amanda James (蒋爱梦）participated in the competition. Caleb won the Third Place Prize and also a Special Performance Award (the only one among the six winners to win this special performance award). Amanda received Honorable Mention. Their excellent performance impressed all the participants and audience. The First Place Prize winner was David Hunsaker from Brigham Young University.
Amanda James, Chinese Language & Literature Major at GWU.
"Participating in the 2010 Chinese Bridge Competition was a fantastic experience. I spent several weeks preparing for the presentation, studying questions about Chinese language and culture, and getting ready for the talent portion of the contest, but even in putting in all that time I had a blast! Wei Laoshi put in a huge amount of time and effort to help me prepare, and getting together with her to study and go over things was so much fun and really rewarding. Not only was preparing fun, but it also expanded my knowledge of Chinese culture and helped me improve my Chinese language skills. The competition itself was great as well. There were twenty different students there from all over the country and all with different backgrounds. It was fun getting the chance to talk with them and hear about their experiences with Chinese and see their presentations. Some had lived in China for several years, and others had only just started studying in college a few years ago, so there were people there at varying levels, but we could all understand each other and our learning experiences and enjoy each others presentations and talents. I truly had a great time, learned a lot, and met some fantastic people!" --Amanda
Caleb Dependahl, Asian Studies; Chinese Lang. & Lit. Double Major at GWU
"大家好！ I can honestly say it was an honor to represent The George Washington University at the 9th annual Chinese Bridge competition. I have felt completely welcome and at home in the Chinese Department since my first week at GW. As I started preparing for the competition, I felt that I was not only participating to improve my Chinese, but that it was also a small opportunity for me to thank everyone in the Chinese Language Department.
I started preparing for the 汉语桥 competition at least two months before the event. From day one I practiced under the guidance of Wei Laoshi (魏耕耘老师). I know for a fact that if it weren't for her, I never would have attempted the performance I later gave and succeeded in. I don't know how many hours I spent preparing alone and with Professor Wei, but it all paid off in the end!
I wasn't sure what to expect from my fellow competitors at the Chinese Bridge competition. I had only heard that the year before there was a very clear line between the students with advanced Chinese and beginner level Chinese. I was pleasantly surprised to find several other students with a higher level of Chinese like me! The competition was very competitive and very close. In the end I finished amongst the top competitors, but more importantly, I have become close friends with some of the other students I met. Furthermore, my performance at the Chinese Bridge competition has led to several other opportunities that I never even expected!
I strongly encourage any student with interest to participate in the next Chinese Bridge competition. Through it, I discovered talents that I never knew I possessed, and realized that my potential in Chinese is far greater than I was aware of. It's difficult to truly communicate to American students the value of knowing the Chinese language. If I've learned anything thus far, it is that you never know where Chinese may take you!" -- Caleb
Gengyun Wei, Coordinator of the GW Competition Team
Ms. Gengyun Wei or Wei laoshi [center], was the coordinator of the GW competition team. A star teacher at her home school (Beijing Language and Culture University), Wei laoshi has been teaching at GWU as a Visiting Teaching Fellow for two academic years (2008-09, 2009-10). She also coordinated the first GW team for this international event in Spring 2009, and won a Third Place Price. This year, Wei laoshi spent a lot of time with the two GW competitors, helping them improve their presentations and language performance. She enjoyed working with these two excellent students. "My time was well spent and worthwhile! Nothing could make me happier than when I saw how they were appreciated by so many people at the Competition. That gave me the greatest joy for being a teacher!"
Other GW faculty members also attended the competition to cheer for the competitors. Ms. Jun Zhang (far left) was Caleb's teacher last fall. Ms. Gengyun Wei (second from left) was Caleb's tutor for this competition. Ms. Miaochun Wei (center) helped videotape part of the event, and Prof. Hongyuan Dong served as judge of this event with four other Professors from other universities. Prof. Phyllis Zhang, Director of the GW Chinese language program, also attended the morning session of the competition.