Speech Contest

As I mentioned, I was in a Chinese speech contest this past week! It was the same one I participated in last year, but my result this year was slightly better! Last year I got the award for "Most Interesting Speech" which was a separate category from the winners. This year I got third place overall! I was really happy with the result, even though I didn't get first. Both of the girls in first and second gave excellent speeches.

The topic was "Having Fun in Taipei" but as I suspected, many people had similar speeches, either about their own experiences, or highlighting certain places. Having been a contest judge enough times myself, I knew that I needed to put some kind of creative spin on it in order to get the judges' attention. This past year there's been a classical story, which is sometimes referred to as the Chinese Romeo and Juliet that has grabbed my attention. Last semester, a group of my students performed it in English during an English drama contest. Then a few months ago, a coworker who wanted to do some language exchange taught me the story in Chinese. A few weeks after that, a regular Chinese class I attend also introduced the story. Finally, a good friend lent me a movie version which was made in the 60s. Around the time I saw the DVD,  I heard about the contest, and so I decided to try and somehow adapt the story for my speech! I changed the names of the characters slightly, and took a few major elements of the story, and included a lot of important places around Taipei. Unlike the original story (and MOST classical Chinese stories) my story has a happy ending!

For my blog readers who don't read Chinese, here's a sort of translation of the speech and interview. You can read the Chinese text here on my Chinese blog.

Once upon a time, there was an American exchange student named Lu Ying-Tai (I changed the first name but kept the second two the same, the original is Zhu Ying-Tai). She was studying Chinese as National Taiwan Normal University when she met the tall and handsome Wang Shan-
Bo (The name of the main guy). They often went out together in Taipei, sometimes to WuFenPu, a 
shopping area, or the famous ShiLin Night Market to eat stinky tofu. Eventually, Ying-Tai fell in love with Shan-Bo, but she was too shy to tell him her feelings.
One day, they went to Danshui, and Ying-Tai tried to give Shan-Bo some clues/hints about how she felt (this was a major part of the original story, especially in the movie). They ate squid balls and ice cream, and took a boat across to BaLi where they saw the delicious ShuangBaoTai donuts (the Chinese name means twins because they're two pieces fried together). Lu Ying-Tai bravely spoke up and said, "Hey, Shan-Bo, don't you think these donuts kind of look like a couple?" Unfortunately, Shan-Bo had already eaten his.

Ying-Tai made a plan to take Shan-Bo past a famous temple where people go every year to pray for husbands or wives. So around Chinese New Year, they went to the place where the temple is, Di-Hua-Jie, also the street where you can buy goods for Chinese New Year. They tried a lot of foods along the way, and, what a coincidence, passed by the temple! Lu Ying-Tai said, "Why don't we ask the "moon god" (supposed to be the eternal matchmaker) about our future?" S
han-Bo didn't get it, and replied, (I used Taiwanese here), "I don't believe in that stuff!!"

They went to a lot of other places, Beitou hot springs, the National Palace Museum, Tianmu, and each time Ying-Tai would say the same kind of stuff. Shan-Bo got fed up and said, (again in Taiwanese, this is a loose translation) "This is getting really annoying. We're just hanging out, stop talking about all that wierd stuff."

Lu Ying-Tai was almost ready to give up, but she brought Shan-Bo to the zoo to see the Pandas.
 When they got there, she said, "Don't you think we're like those two pandas, a perfect pair?" (I really don't know how to translate the Chinese here, but it basically makes a big word play on the Chinese names of the pandas - TuanTuan and YuanYuan). Shan-Bo shook his head and said, "That makes no sense, we're not animals!" Ying-Tai got angry then and said, "You're a big dumb OX!" (A famous line from the story).

They angrily took the MRT back, not speaking at all. When they reached Taipei 101 they stood there looking at it. Suddenly, they saw a pair of butterflies fly in front of them! (In the original, tragic story, the lovers both die and are reunited as a pair of butterflies). Shan-Bo remembered the story of Liang Shan-Bo and Zhu Ying-Tai from his school days, and finally understood everything Lu Ying-Tai had been trying to say. (Insert singing, "Oh I really was a big dumb ox!") He took Ying-Tai's hand and they ascended the highest place in Taipei, looking out over Miramar (the big ferris wheel) and dreamed about their wonderful future. 


Well, if you endured this far, congratulations! I hope you understood slightly better. I feel like I live in such a bilingual world these days that a lot of my thoughts require knowledge of both English and Chinese to fully get. Anyways, after my speech the two hosts came up to interview me. This is always the most dreaded part! They wanted to know if I could sing songs from any other Chinese operas.... the answer was no! So I just sang the part from my speech again! It was kind of embarrassing... I really wanted to be off the stage! Fortunately, they changed the subject, asking how long I'd been in Taiwan and what my favorite Taiwanese food was. 


  1. boston7:55 am

    congrats on placing this year!

  2. Ni hao li hai! Thanks for posting the story. I could follow along so much better this time around. You are amazing!

  3. Congratulations Char!

  4. Charlotte! Congratulations!!! I'm so proud of your creativity and perseverance! :)


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