Rap music strikes a chord
University of Adelaide student Steven Langsford added a modern beat to an ancient text entitled The Way of the Scholar to create the cultural performance that helped him win a recent national competition for students of Chinese in Perth.
The more than 30 contestants in the National China Bridge (Hanyu Qiao) competition also had to make a three-minute presentation on an Olympic theme and take a multiple-choice quiz covering everything from history to the environment - both in Chinese.
Steven won the overall first prize while another University of Adelaide student, Jane Thompson, won the award for best general knowledge. The competition is organised in conjunction with the Chinese Embassy in Australia.
"We each had to give a cultural performance so I thought I would try something different," said Steven, who finished in the top five in the competition in 2005.
"The rap worked because the text was quite repetitive and also cut back to the basics in its message and meaning."
Steven's presentation linked striving in sport to striving in study and even compared some modern Chinese celebrities to the ancient Greek myths. Jane sang a Taiwanese song and spoke about the Olympic mascots, describing it as a "challenging but enjoyable" experience.
Both have studied in China, which has helped fuel a love for the language and the culture.
Jane spent a month in China after winning an Australia China Council scholarship while a Year 10 student at Loreto College, and hopes her Arts / Law degree can lead to a career in diplomacy or international relations - focussing on China, of course.
Steven spent a gap year in Beijing after graduating from Unley High School then won a scholarship to study for a year at a language centre in Taiwan as part of his BA at the University.
He is majoring in Chinese and Psychology, and the two came together when he helped a Psychology lecturer with a study on grammar processing during his summer break. "Chinese goes with everything," he said.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), Professor John Taplin, applauded the achievements of the students, saying it showed the strength of the University's Chinese language program taught by the Centre for Asian Studies and the importance of the new Confucius Institute.
Next year's National China Bridge Competition will be held in Adelaide and hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Adelaide.
Story by Nick Carne