Chinese language professor takes students to speech competition

Blugolds take first place in beginner category



Professor Kong and five students celebrated Chinese culture through speech at the 12th Annual Wisconsin Chinese Language Speech Contest.

Story by Sammi Wendling, Staff Writer

For the first time ever Blugolds competed in the 12th Annual Wisconsin Chinese Language Speech Contest.

The contest, which was held on March 7 by the Wisconsin Association of Chinese Language Teachers, catered to Chinese language speakers of different ages, from kindergarten to the collegiate level.

Kaishan Kong, assistant professor of Chinese at UW-Eau Claire, took five interested students to the event.

The Eau Claire group traveled to UW-Milwaukee on March 7, where friendly competition took place amongst other college Chinese speakers.

There were also different categories, so beginners and native speakers alike were able to participate. Contestants were divided into categories based on age, heritage and skill level for a more accurate competition.

Eau Claire students took home a first place win for the College Beginner division, as well as the Partial Heritage College Beginner division. They also earned the Honorable Mention title.

However, the contest was about more than just earning titles and placing well.

“All of the students were impressed to see how many people, how many different ages, were represented,” Kong said. “All of the people in the auditorium became united through the language. There were people coming from many different ethnic backgrounds there.”

Kong said her students were inspired by the amount of people who were paying homage to Chinese culture, especially during the opening ceremony, where a traditional Chinese song was sung.

Youa Xiong, sophomore, represented Eau Claire and said she was awestruck with the turnout.

“This feeling of sheer amazement came over me, seeing how many people were able to speak the language so fluently,” Xiong said. “Just seeing and being around other people speaking Chinese was so rewarding.

Xiong said she was especially appreciative of the language in the song during the opening ceremony.

“There are different vowel sounds in Chinese,” she said. “It was interesting to hear what he was singing, given the background and cultural context of the song.”

After the contest was over, participants, family and friends were all invited back into the main auditorium for a celebration of culture. Kung Fu performances, dances and songs reflecting Chinese heritage concluded the event.

Kong believes it is important for students who are not involved in the Chinese program to hear about this valuable experience.

“Chinese is traditionally not a very popular language, and when the whole state becomes united through this language and culture, it is such an irreplaceable experience,” Kong said. “I would challenge students to learn a different language, to get out of their comfort zone.”

Xiong also believes that learning this language opens up a window of opportunities for students to understand more about Chinese culture and language.

“I encourage people to try to get out of their comfort zone and learn Chinese,” Xiong said. “It just gives you this entirely new, fresh outlook on culture.”

There is even more of an interest in the Chinese language and culture after the group of five retold their experiences to other students. The department is already planning on taking even more students to next year’s event.