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3 Americans win top prizes in foreign student Chinese speech contest

11/28/2023 09:58 PM
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Contestants pose with their prizes and certificates at the 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 28, 2023
Contestants pose with their prizes and certificates at the 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 28, 2023

Taipei, Nov. 28(CNA) Three American students won the top prizes in Taiwan's 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition, in which 68 students from 15 countries competed, according to the National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, which organized the event.

The contestants, who came from 20 colleges across the country, hailed from Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.

Each contestant was given five minutes to speak about one of five assigned topics: "My observations of Taiwan's election culture," "The one thing I find most surprising about Taiwan," "Is the gender column necessary on (Taiwan's) National Identification Card?" "How artificial intelligence (AI) has impacted humankind?" and "Should you offer people compliments or criticism?"

They were graded on the content of their speech, as well as their delivery, posture, and time management.

The contestants gave animated speeches, with many using idioms and gesturing frequently as they illustrated their points and engaged the audience.

Following a day of impressive demonstration of language and public speaking skills, the winners were announced, with the first, second, and third-place winners all being Americans.

Kyle Kaczorowski (left), third-place winner of the 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition, accepts his prize money and certificate in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 28, 2023
Kyle Kaczorowski (left), third-place winner of the 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition, accepts his prize money and certificate in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 28, 2023

Kyle Kaczorowski, 21, who won third place with NT$12,000 (US$382) in prize money, spoke about the potential risks of AI in academia and politics if its use was unregulated, and, to illustrate his point, he revealed that he wrote the introduction of his speech using only ChatGPT.

Kaczorowski told CNA that for four weeks he practiced hard for his speech, reciting it in bed, in the shower, and on his way to school.

Two days ago, his neighbors who held the elevator door for him heard him talking to himself, and not wanting to raise any eyebrows, he explained to them that he was preparing for a Chinese-language speech contest, Kaczorowski said.

Kaczorowski first arrived in Taiwan last year on a scholarship program at National Chengchi University and later returned to the U.S., where he met his Taiwanese girlfriend in New York.

"I came back here just to make my Chinese better for our future. I thought if I'm going to be in a relationship, maybe forever, with a Taiwanese person, that I should come back and make my Chinese reach a more advanced level," Kaczorowski told CNA.

Kaczorowski will leave Taiwan next Saturday. He said although he looked forward to returning to the U.S., he also felt "really sad" because he will miss out on all the "beautiful mountains and tasty food" that have made him fall in love with Taiwan.

He said that he especially loved the egg crepes at the Taiwanese-style breakfast stores and had hiked most of the well-known mountains in the Greater Taipei area.

Norbert Sanchez (left), who won second place at the 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition, accpets his prize money and certificate in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 28, 2023
Norbert Sanchez (left), who won second place at the 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition, accpets his prize money and certificate in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 28, 2023

Norbert Sanchez, who won second place, spoke about Taiwan's elections and compared Taiwan's electoral system with that of the United States. He also touched on the rise of a third political party in Taiwan and how Taiwanese and American presidential candidates' campaigns and televised debates differed.

Sanchez, 35, is a master's student at National Taiwan Normal University and is also an interpreter and English teacher.

Sean McEvoy, a visiting student studying Chinese at National Taiwan University, won the top prize along with NT$20,000 in prize money for his speech on whether people should give others compliments or criticism.

Rather than being tied down to one side of the question, McEvoy did not give a definitive answer, arguing that both praise and criticism could be potentially useful or harmful, depending on the person giving them.

The speech, which included two quotes by Confucius, took him three weeks to write and practice, he told CNA.

Sean McEvoy (left), first-place winner of the 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition, accepts his prize money and certificate from National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Director-General Wang Lan-sheng in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 28, 2023
Sean McEvoy (left), first-place winner of the 2023 Foreign Students Chinese Public Speaking Competition, accepts his prize money and certificate from National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Director-General Wang Lan-sheng in Taipei on Tuesday. CNA photo Nov. 28, 2023

McEvoy, 32, has studied Chinese for eight years. He is currently enrolled in the International Chinese Language Program at the National Taiwan University on a U.S. scholarship.

Besides the top three winners, there was a fourth-place winner and six "superior" prize winners.

(By Sean Lin)

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