A student from the US on Tuesday won the top prize in a Mandarin public speaking contest in Taipei, in which the contestants, all foreign nationals, described their experience in Taiwan or shared other personal stories.
Adam Boxer, one of the 33 contestants and an economics and Mandarin language student from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, won first prize for his commentary on a news article about COVID-19.
Boxer expressed his thoughts on the article, which was published in The Economist and projected how the COVID-19 pandemic might end, based on other pandemics in the past.
His presentation in fluent Mandarin earned him the first prize of NT$20,000, which he received on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old said that he arrived in Taiwan on Sept. 20, is enrolled in the International Language Chinese Program at National Taiwan University, and plans to return to the US at the end of the semester.
“I was super lucky that in my school district in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, they’d just started offering Chinese when I entered middle school,” he said. “So, I started in middle school, continued through high school, and I’m continuing in college, and I really love learning the language.”
Boxer said that learning Chinese is important to him because he loves meeting different people, and he thinks the language is an integral part of today’s world.
The 49th edition of the competition was organized by National Dr Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to promote Chinese-language learning and showcase the beauty of Mandarin, said Wang Lan-sheng (王蘭生), director-general of the memorial hall.
The contestants from 13 countries used powerful body language, songs and props to enliven their speeches.
Tsering Tharchin, a 35-year-old Tibetan student who won the second prize of NT$16,000, talked about what he learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He used a mirror to demonstrate his main point that by choosing the right angle, one can reflect optimism and kindness against all odds.
Tsering said he has been studying Mandarin at Taiwan Normal University for the past two years and three months.
Tsering said he was born in Tibet, and fled to India when he was 12.
“Since Tibet was under China’s control, when I was little, I learned a little bit of pinyin, but after I escaped to India, I totally forgot it,” he said. “When I was in college, my interest was studying China and international relations, and politics, so I felt learning Chinese was very important.”
Tsering said Taiwan has provided refuge and a great environment for him to study Mandarin.
“Taiwan is the best place, because I cannot go back to my own land, I cannot go back to China because of political reasons,” he said. “Taiwan is the only place I can stay.”
Chen Yan-hao (陳彥豪), a professor at National Taipei University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Applied Linguistics, said after the competition that many of the contestants used good vocabulary in their speeches.
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