New England Got Talent, Notes from the Chinese Bridge College Student Talent Competition

By David Li,, photo and video provided by Yi Sun of UMass Boston

The second annual New England Chinese Bridge college student talent competition was held at UMass Boston on March 10. Sixteen finalists from colleges across New England participated in the competition. Due to increasing popularity of this event, University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute has decided to make this competition an annual event.

Kathleen Teehan, director of University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute

Philip DiSalvio, Dean of the University College at UMass Boston, spoke at the opening of the competition. “Confucius was one of the world’s greatest philosophers and educators. His educational philosophy has had a huge contribution to civilization of mankind, and to the peaceful development of the world. His beliefs, such as ‘do not do to others what you don’t want to be done to you,’ are universal values that are still very important and beneficial today,” he said.

The competition was divided into Chinese speech, answer questions and the talent show. 16 contestants first described their understanding of China, reasons for learning Chinese, methods and personal experience from learning of Chinese. Then they answered questions by the judges. Finally, the contestants took part in the talent show, and expressed their love of Chinese culture through vividly performances, including singing Chinese songs, performing music instruments and Chinese martial arts. Their wonderful performances brought smiles and cheers from the audience, and also brought the competition into climax.

After nearly three hours of intense competition, Paul Kim from Brown University, and Sarah Gamalinda from Amherst College won the first prize of the entry-level division. William Morejón of MIT won the title in the advanced-level division.

The two winners of the entry level division didn’t study Chinese for very long, but their speeches and performances impressed the audience and the judges deeply. Advanced-level division winner William Morejón had learned Chinese for only two years, but he spoke fluent Chinese. “I am very interested in Chinese culture. I speak Chinese every day with my Chinese friends, and they helped me a lot.” Another advanced level contestant from Northeastern University, Evan M. Rodriguez, gave an interesting business lesson in his speech. “I really enjoyed the competition. I have studied Chinese for eight years, and I would like to go to China to work in the investment field one day,” said Mr. Rodriguez.

The Eight judges Wenchao He, Aimin Li, Mingquan Wang, Zhijun Wang, Hua Dong, Xu Guo, Tong Chen and Shuhui-Yuan Huang were Chinese teachers from University of Rhode Island, Dartmouth College, Tufts University, UMass Amherst, Northeastern University, UMass Boston, MIT and Harvard University, respectively.

As an encouragement to the contestants, UMass Boston Confucius Institute invited Chelsea Nakabayshi of UMass Amherst to share her experience of learning Chinese for 12 years. She is currently a graduate student majoring in Chinese. Finally, Dr. Wenchao He of the Confucius Institute at University of Rhode Island made ​​closing remarks. Baifeng Sun, associate director of University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute thanked all the judges and participates, and hoped they would all come back next year. The competition was successfully concluded in a round of applause.