Champion Chen Qiyu from Tsinghua University speaks at this year's 21st Century National English Speaking Competition, sponsored by China Daily.
As English proficiency continues to be a ticket to opportunity for Chinese students, a national speaking contest provides a platform to excel.
Twenty-year-old Chen Qiyu stood center-stage, holding a crystal trophy, a certificate and a bouquet in her arms. The cameras lingered, dazzling with flashes. A continuous volley of applause swept through the large audience as she was crowned the champion of this year's 21st Century National English Speaking Competition.
The March 26 contest was a satisfying finale for Chen, who has engaged in public speaking since the age of 10－half of her young life. While standing on the stage, she remained calm but felt a little disoriented. What would be her next step?
“Up on the stage, people see rosy images of winners surrounded by the spotlights,” she says. “In real life, they are all ordinary students who still need to decide what to eat at the canteen and to meet school assignments' deadlines.”
However, Chen felt inspired as she watched previous winners such as Liu Xin and Xia Peng, who have become elites in different professions, sharing their experiences from the stage.
“From their paths, I see more gateways and possibilities, which makes me think my future is promising,” she says.
Over the past two decades, millions of talented students have taken part in the 21st Century National English Speaking Competition. This year, the contest attracted over 100,000 college students and 700,000 high school and primary students around China.
The competition is a stage to showcase contestants' English-language proficiency and ability to think in-depth about different issues. Meanwhile, the skills and experiences they gained from public speaking will benefit them greatly for the rest of their lives.