SFU News: Dual Degree Program student wins first prize in Mandarin speech contest

March 17, 2012
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Andrew Fuller, a student in the Simon Fraser University-Zhejiang University's Dual Degree Program (DDP) in Computing Science, took a top prize in the province-wide "Chinese Bridge" Mandarin Speech Contest at BCIT's Confucius Institute. Fuller won first place in the intermediate/advanced non-heritage speakers category, competing against students from nine BC post-secondary institutions.

The topic for this year's speeches was "I have a dream"; Fuller described his unique plan to become a Hollywood voice coach who trains non-Chinese actors to eliminate their accents when speaking Chinese in films. "There have been many recent Hollywood movies where a white movie star suddenly speaks a few sentences of Chinese (The Day The Earth Stood Still, Limitless, Red)," says Fuller. "I think that for Chinese audiences, the initial entertainment factor will wear off and they'll start expecting actual words, instead of just gibberish. So, I think there's a market for voice coaches who can break down the pronunciation from a native English speaker's point of view."

Andrew was presented with his award by the Chinese Consul General, Ms. Fei Liu. When asked about the experience of competing in the contest, Fuller said, "It's hard to speak to an entire room of people, especially when they're all scrutinizing every detail of your pronunciation."

"In the past, the highest prize our students have won in the same competition is the Second Prize," says Danyu Zhao, the Applied Sciences advisor who oversees the DDP program, "Andrew has definitely set a new record this year."

Fuller, who spoke no Mandarin before beginning his degree, is going into his last year of the Dual Degree Program. In this innovative Computing Science program, students earn two degrees--one from SFU, and one from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. DDP students spend two years at Zheijiang University, and then return to SFU to complete their upper division courses. Learning and mastering the Mandarin language is a key component of the program. Click here for more information about the DDP program.

The provincial contest, coordinated by BCIT's Confucius Institute and the Chinese Consulate General in Vancouver, is a preliminary stage in the international "Chinese Bridge" competition organized by Hanban, a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. Hanban's goal is to provide "Chinese language and cultural teaching resources and services worldwide." Contests for both post-secondary and high-school students are held annually in over 100 countries, with semi-finals and finals taking place in China. Fuller has been invited to represent Western Canada in the international competition in Beijing.