The annual Northern California Chinese Culture Competition was held at 1:30 p.m.on Saturday, May 7, at the Calvary Assembly Church in Milpitas. There were eleven teams, which competed in three groups (A, B, and C) in the first round. The top two teams from each group, a total of six teams, entered the second round, where they competed into two groups. The top two teams from each of thse groups would compete in the finals. Any team that lost in the first two rounds would drop out of the competition. In this intense and rather nerve-wracking competition, the Boys and Girls Schools’ teams both made it to the finals, where the Girls School took second place and the Boys School came in fourth.
During the first round, the Boys and Girls Schools competed against each other in group C, which was not quite a fair arrangement. However, the students remained cool-headed and took turns getting the answers, not allowing the other teams to score any points. The Boys School came in first, and the Girls School second. After drawing lots for the second round, the Boys and Girls Schools were again in the same group. After a tense competition, the Girls School placed first, and the Boys School placed second. Upon realizing that they had won the second round, everyone heaved a sigh a relief. But as the four top teams began the final round, the pressure mounted once again. The Boys School team, due to some tricky questions, did not perform as well as they could have. The Girls School competed fiercely and took second place, just as they had done so last year. All of the top four teams are eligible to represent Northern California in the national competition sponsored by the National Association of Chinese Schools.
Since the Boys and Girls Schools had placed first and second in the northern California competition and third and fourth in the national competition, the students on those teams were ineligible to compete in this year’s competition. Moreover, students must have enrolled in school for six consecutive years in the U.S. to qualify. For such a small school as ours, it is quite difficult to find enough students who are both strong in Chinese and meet the requirements, to go to the competition. From the competition this time, however, the positive effects are obvious. In a short period of time, our students’ Chinese abilities and understanding of Chinese culture swiftly improved.
The percentage of students at the Boys and Girls Schools who are born and raised in the U.S. has been increasing each year. Although parents care about their children’s Chinese education, their children are accustomed to using English and are not that interested in learning Chinese. Chinese teachers have to exert their utmost effort in teaching Chinese, yet do not always get good results. The Jeopardy-like Chinese competition is both intense and exciting, and the questions cover just about everything, imperceptibly stimulating students’ latent abilities and interest in learning Chinese. As long as the teacher guides them along, he or she will see immediate results.
This year, the Girls School’s team included an Euro-American student, an unprecedented first in the history of the Chinese culture competition. This student, who has been studying Chinese and living at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for nearly five years, was able to understand the questions, which so amazed the president of the Association of Northern California Chinese Schools that he asked to interview her.
Last semester, a parent complained to the Boys School that although her son had been studying Chinese for three years, he had not made any progress. This time, she witnessed how her son calmly answered the questions during the competition. In the first round, no matter what the question was about, he gave his opponents no chance to answer. His outstanding performance filled her with happiness. After the competition, she said to her son’s teachers, “You teachers have taught him well!”
California has many enthusiastic volunteer teachers who spend their time and energy to come up with a wide variety of questions in order to hold his meaningful activity, allowing overseas youth of Chinese descent to learn about their heritage and pass on the Chinese culture. This down-to-earth spirit of remembering our roots and laying the foundation for education tallies with the Venerable Master’s educational ideals. Thus the Boys and Girls Schools will continue to fully support students to learn and participate in this activity.