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Student Hits All the Right Notes During Trip to China
Hanna Jun ’12 advanced to the international level of the "Chinese Bridge" competition.
When Hanna Jun ’12 decided to participate in a Chinese proficiency competition last spring, she had no idea she was taking the first steps toward international fame.
Jun, an anthropology major at Franklin & Marshall College, advanced to the international level of the “Chinese Bridge,” a language competition affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. She traveled to China in July for the final round of the competition, some of which was broadcast on national television. One day, while walking down a street in Hunan province, Jun could hardly believe her ears.
“Someone called my name as I was walking,” Jun says. “They recognized me from the competition on television. I was more shocked than anything. It encouraged me to continue studying the language.”
Jun learned about the Chinese Bridge from Hongchang Yao, director of the Chinese language program at F&M. She also received encouragement from Monica Cable, director of postgraduate fellowships. The goal of the contest is to promote Chinese language and culture in countries around the globe; students deliver musical performances and give speeches to demonstrate their proficiency in the language.
Jun’s path to China began at Dickinson College, site of the regional level of the competition in April. One of several F&M students to compete at Dickinson, she sang two songs while playing the guitar: “You’re My Eyes” and “My Most Important Decision.” Jun performed well enough to advance to New York for the East USA competition.
“In New York, I was worried because I was placed in the upper advanced level by accident,” Jun says. “By some miracle, I got second place. But in China, it was a whole different ballgame.”
Jun was one of 120 contestants from 69 countries to advance to China. During the month-long competition, students took written tests, delivered speeches, performed musical numbers—and even filmed television commercials. Jun taped a commercial on Chinese tea in a gigantic lotus garden.
“It was such a great experience. I never thought something like this could happen,” Jun says. “It was once-in-a-lifetime. I realized that there’s no limit to the amount you can learn, or the dreams you can have. It’s all actually within my reach.”
Jun advanced to the first round of the semifinals in China. After the competition, she traveled around the country for a couple of weeks. Her language training did not end with the competition; she used all four of the languages she speaks—Chinese, English, Korean and Spanish—to communicate with fellow travelers during a stay in a hostel.
A Gray Scholar and Rubin Memorial Scholar at F&M, Jun is taking five classes this semester, including three senior seminars. “It’s my last opportunity to take courses geared toward my interests. It might be a little hectic, but I’m really excited.”
Jun hopes to embark on another international adventure following graduation. She is currently applying for a Fulbright Scholarship. “Participating in this competition made me realize that I should never be satisfied where I am,” she says. “I want to go for things with all my heart.”