At the launch of this first ever Chinese Writing Contest 2021, which came with a strict requirement of 320 available Chinese characters, I did not expect the level of the writings could be so high. As I was reading the submissions, I was blown away time and time again.
Perhaps, even if Dr. Seuss could write in Chinese, he would not have done any better!
In 1960, Dr. Seuss won a bet that he could write a successful book using only 50 English words. That book is Green Eggs and Ham, one of the best selling children’s books of all time. This is a good example of how embracing constraints leads to genuine creative ideas. Therefore, we have good reasons to believe that this Chinese Writing Contest may help discover some of the best selling authors in the near future, and find a new path for creative writings in Chinese, specifically for Chinese learners.
This Chinese Writing Contest is definitely NOT about learning more and more Chinese characters. It is about USING Chinese characters. The required characters count for about 10% of the total characters used in today’s print.
This is where creativity comes in, and the rote memory goes out.
This is also something human beings are uniquely qualified for. Indeed, technologies can do loads of things for us, but creativity is still something we have to come up from within.
This is fun.
This is play.
This is a competition where nobody suffers from stage fright.
First of all, thank all contestants who submitted their writings. You are the stars! Do write again next time.
Secondly, thank two Chinese learners, Demonic-Duck and Betty, two marvellous software engineers, for creating easy-to-use character checkers, which make it so easy to catch those characters which are not included in the required character’s list.
Thirdly, thank all my partners for providing fantastic prizes!
I’m also grateful for this event being publicised in the Language Magazine and the Helsinki Times. Thank you very much!
Last but not the least, thank everyone who voted. It was so important that you participated.
Finally, time to reveal the winners, and a few words about the selection process.
30 qualified submissions went through the selection process from Oct 1 to 16 on Twitter. People were invited to vote for the best four. Those who voted less than four were excluded. I’ve also invited many friends and neighbours to vote. They read all the submissions and gave their honest opinions.
After counting all the votes, including my own, I’m delighted to announce the result.
Toh Jun Tian is 15 years old, from Malaysia. He studies at Straits International School Penang. He likes listening to music and playing badminton.
Jun Tian is hardworking. However, he often feels that he couldn’t achieve the desired results. He is often frustrated with himself that no matter how hard he tries, regardless of grades or life, he is far worse than others. He poured this frustration into his winning essay, 《有个理想叫成就》. In this essay, he transformed all the frustrations, setbacks and unattainable ideals into a pure torrent of language flow which resonates in today’s highly competitive society and captivates readers’ imaginations.
Although setbacks are inevitable, Jun Tian firmly believes that, as long as he persists, he will achieve his dreams.
Jaap Grolleman is from the Netherlands. He has been living in China for three years. He works and studies at GoEast Mandarin.
His winning poem, 《给我的女儿一个信》, was inspired by Eva and Chloe. Both are Chinese. When he first met them, he had to rely on translation apps a lot. Now he can talk with them in Chinese about almost anything freely. Jaap believes that speaking with them has helped a lot, and it is a clear sign that learning Chinese has opened doors for him.
This experience is very special, and his poem articulates well about his feelings and thoughts of living in a foreign land and his connections with Chinese people.
Germaine is 12 years old, from Malaysia. She studies at Nobel International School Selangor.
This COVID-pandemic has imposed lots of restrictions on all of us. Lockdowns prevent people from going to other places. Consequently, people who live in a tropical environment could not get to experience the four seasons in person. This is where Germaine got her inspirations for her winning poem, 《年》.
This poem writes about the four seasons, depicting some lovely images in each season. Indeed, this poem is like a cheerful and sweet melody amid the pandemic, taking readers to a nice and happy world full of laughters.
Please join me to congratulate our winners for their genuine creativity and splendid writing skills!
Chinese Writing Contest will return next year.
If anyone is interested in sponsoring the next contest, offering some cool prizes for the winners, do get in touch.
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