Student wins national Chinese competition

Joss Saltzman ’16 won first place in division B of the 2014 Preliminary Competition of the Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition for the southwest United States in San Diego May 16, and received a prize package including books and a Beijing opera mask.

“I think Joss’s success is due to his creativity, which inspires him to create and sing a Chinese song, which perfectly combines Chinese folk music and America music,” Chinese teacher Yi Jiang said.

After the preliminary competition, Saltzman is now under final consideration by the Chinese Hanban, a section of the Chinese Education Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. to represent the United Sates team in semifinals in China this October. If selected, Saltzman will compete against contestants from 60 to 100 countries around the world. The decision is scheduled to be announced by Hanban this summer.

Saltzman, Jaebok Lee ’16, Victoria Knight ’16 and Koji Everard ’13 were chosen to represent Harvard-Westlake in the U.S. southwest region division of the competition.

Chinese teachers Tiantian Wang and Jiang chose Lee, Knight, Saltzman and Everard out of all students enrolled in Chinese classes to participate in the competition this year.

The Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition is held by the Confucius Institute from San Diego State University, which worked with the Office of Chinese Language International Council, Hanban, which dedicates itself to spreading the Chinese language, culture and history outside of China. Judges for the 2014 competition were chosen from the Chinese consulate.

“We chose students with the highest level in speaking Chinese with high communicative skills, and also have a passion for Chinese culture,” Jiang said.

In the competition, students were divided into two competition groups: A, for students studying Chinese for only two years or less, and B for students studying Chinese over two years. Lee competed in group A, while Knight, Saltzman and Everard competed in group B.

The competition was divided into three parts regardless of group level. The first stage was a two minute speech on various topics, which included sections such as memorable Chinese cultural experiences, followed by four multiple choice questions on any topic relating to Chinese culture and language from the past or present.

The competition finished with each student performing any talent in Chinese or relating to Chinese culture; students had the opportunity to perform Chinese songs or poems, to write calligraphy and to present Chinese-influenced art.

Everard spoke of his visit to Xian, China five years ago with his family that greatly influenced his decision to pursue clay pottery as a passion and hobby.

For the talent portion, he displayed three ceramic pieces he made based on Chinese ceramic influence and tradition, and explained the intention and process of creation behind each piece.

Lee performed “Mo Li Hua,” or “Jasmine Flower” on the cello, and spoke on the topic of “My Chinese Studies and I” for his speech portion of the competition.

“I talked about what interested me about Chinese culture in the first place, and how Chinese, as China is becoming more and more important in the world, has the power to connect different people,” Lee said.

Saltzman composed original music and lyrics in Chinese that combined Chinese and American musical influence into one performance. This composition was awarded first place.

For his speech portion, he spoke on his experience befriending and performing with the internationally-famed Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

“Personally, I think it went really well,” Saltzman said. “It was a lot of fun.”

 

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