Students involved with the foreign language department at Sam Houston State University have something to cheer about as a member of the Chinese language program fortified her “bridge” of communication.
More than 30 students, along with current Chinese language student Danielle Thornton competed in the second annual Greater Houston Area Chinese Speech Contest “Chinese Bridge,” Friday winning third place for her performance at Rice University in Houston.
Students from the Chinese program at UH, Rice and SHSU competed for awards by delivering individual speeches, group presentations or other presentations such as songs, stories, poems, etc.
Stage fright jitters and the recent adoption of the Chinese language had Thornton reluctant to perform.
“I really was not interested in performing in front of a large crowd at first. No one wanted to do it so I said I would and that was a week before the competition,” said senior Danielle Thornton.
Thornton had only practiced the popular Chinese song “Sweet as Honey” for a week before delivering her solid performance.
“I was surprised because I was watching the others perform and they were really good. I was just happy when they called my name I couldn’t believe it at first,” said Thornton.
Although Thornton was slightly shocked at winning, her professor was not surprised at all.
“She worked really hard. She came to me every day during the week before the contest to go over pronunciation and asked me to correct her mistakes,” said Chinese language professor Hong Xu. “She won third place in the beginners group and was the only one wearing the qi poa traditional Chinese garment.”
Students were grouped according to level of experience with the Chinese language, ranging from first year, second year and third year, with the extremely advanced students grouped in the honorary group.
“It was for all Chinese speakers whose native language is not Chinese,” said Xu. “Some advanced speakers at the competition were from Chinese families who were born here in the United States and have a different environment.”
Among those attending the “Chinese Bridge” was Consulate General of the Peoples Republic of China who handed awards to the students participating in the event.
Xu said, “Three of my students including Danielle went to the competition. I hope that more students will learn about it and maybe next year we will have more students involved with it.”
Winners will have an opportunity to take part in the World Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students in Beijing.