Chinese School Trophy Girl Wins 1st Place!

April 02, 2011

Chinese School Trophy Girl  American winning English Elocution Competition


Does your kid ever amaze you? Our 10 year old did when she entered herself into her Mandarin Chinese HIgh School in Asia's English Elocution Competition and wrote an awesome speech for it on her own called "Our Green Planet" inspiring the kids to save our planet. ( They do elocution competitions in Mandarin, Bahasa Malay and English on succeeding Saturdays  this month).

mandarin school first prize trophy for English elocution

She is the youngest and tiniest in the school plus the only Caucasian, but when she saw the notice on the bulletin board she knew she wanted to enter and dreamed about winning first prize and a trophy. Some at 10 might be intimidated by speaking in front of 1000 high school kids, but not our Mozart, she thought it sounded like fun and a great opportunity. There was stiff competition but she was willing to do the work required to attain her goal.

happy trophy winner first price

I must admit that she is a natural public speaker ( she wanted to take over the presentation when we did them with the disadvantaged kids in NYC that we took with us virtually one year) and loves to perform ( shocks us when we video tape her as she's such a quick study) , but she is also a self led hard worker.

School here goes for 6 days a week and she gets up at 5:30 or 6:00 AM in the dark and takes a bus/van an hour to school, but she still rehearsed every morning at school and skipped her lunch for more rehearsals this week....not to mention the practice she did at home ( added to daily violin, piano practice, swimming for fun with friends & Chinese tutor once a week).

She is the one who asks to get up the half hour earlier to study, always obsessively does homework immediately when returning home and is willing to go to bed earlier as she is very concientious about her school duties. This is her nature, not our discipline.


She was a bit nervous before she began and her legs felt weak as she walked to the podium to give her speech, but she was stunned and touched by the wild applause and rooting she got which she said made her feel "euphoric". Only a few trophies are given out and of course the first prize one is the prettiest so she was tickled pink when she won it!

We were very nervous when we placed our "baby" in this large Mandarin High School, giving her a two year grade skip, but it's worked out so well on so many levels. I think it is the best social fit she has had out of any school that she has attended. Her Mandarin is zooming ahead and she loves the extra curricular things, kids and competitions like this. She placed a very close second on their recent exams out of 26 kids in her class ( all older) so academically she is thriving too.

She adores being in the high school choir and has been picked to sing an acapella solo for a performance in two weeks for earth day celebrations. Most of the songs are in Mandarin, but she is also  learning some in Malay and sometimes in English.

We didn't get to see her do this, but it's a lovely speech, so we plan to record it and put it on Youtube soon to share it with you too. She is very playful, so when she called me from her bus home today, she first told me that she was one who didn't win anything. I assured her she was a winner just for doing it, but it is icing on the cake that she got the first place trophy she coveted too.

We're doing the happy dance here this weekend and swam and watched a dvd family movie together.  She is off with her Spanish speaking friend from Mexico tomorrow to see "Hop". I'm working on getting healthier and preparing for upcoming travel to Singapore, India, Bhutan and Jordan that we start on May 1st on our way to Europe for the summer. How about you?

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Congrats on the great April Fool's Joke!!
It's really funny to see that a native English Speaker takes first prize for English Elocution in a Mandarin Chinese School. LOL

But if you are serious about your daughter winning the prize, I can only say sorry she felt compelled to rob one of the Asian students of an opportunity to show off their hard earned language skills. Now if she had won the prize in Mandarin that would be a reason to celebrate!

Sheila Penning

Love the post! Congrats to Mozart so proud for her and her accomplishment. She's such an inspiration to many!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Hey Julie,

I can tell you are not a regular reader because you are very ill informed and your comment comes across really nasty and harsh towards a little kid.

I am not sure why you would want to waste your energy being mean but I send you blessings of love for what ever is making you so unhappy.

I don't usually post the really mean spirited comments like yours ( that comes with the territory of popularity online), but I thought I'd address your misconceptions.

She did not take the prize or opportunity away from any one, but earned it by hard work and talent. Quite an amazing feat for a 10 year old child.

It's true she does have the advantage of being a native speaker ( she is a trilingual from birth) but there are many in her school who have been speaking English from birth or preschool. English is the dominant language here in Penang and there is English TV and signs etc.

The competition was not judged just on the language ability as most who volunteered were all very strong English speakers ( some native speakers from birth like my daughter).

How well and compelling the speech was written was important as well as the subject matter. The judges and audience were very impressed with what this 10 year old was I.

The fact that a 10 year old knew so much and cared so much about our planet was impressive. They were judged on their presentation as well which she was outstanding in and very inspiring to the crowd...teachers and kids alike.She got the most applause so clearly the audience and judges were impressed.

That a 10 year old child would be willing to speak in front of 1000 high school kids alone is impressive in case you didn't notice. Stats show that speaking in front of an audience is a bigger fear than death for most people.

Yes, she will probably enter the Mandarin one next year and English again as she enjoys sharing and has natural gifts in this area.

BUT she also worked VERY hard as I point out in this post. Unlike many of the kids, she did not miss one lunch time rehearsal and put her heart and soul into the work required to win first place.

As a mom of a tiny, skinny 10 year old who still wears size 6, I didn't like that the school did rehearsals during her lunch break making the kids skip lunch & seeing her so hungry when she got home, but I am proud of her willingness to sacrifice and work hard for her goal.

Elocution is not just about the language and in a school full of foreign students, each language has native speakers and various levels of proficiency. Certainly, the native Mandarin, Malay & English speakers will have some advantage and the best in those languages tend to want to compete, but the contest is not about how well one speaks the language but how well one gives a speech and how moving, well written and important the speech is.

Had she not given a fabulous speech or written one so well or performed it in such an inspiring way, she would not have won first prize, no matter how good her English was nor would the audience have reacted in the same way.

Give credit where credit is due. This was an awesome feat for a 10 year old child who worked very hard to achieve it and we are very proud of her for the effort and courage.

Shame on you for belittling it!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Sheila - Aw, thanks so much! Wonderful to hear from a regular reader who really gets what we are doing.

She is an inspiring kiddo and we're proud of her and so happy that she is happy at her Mandarin school and appreciated by the other students there.

Margaret Sch.

Julie, this girl, Mozart, is one of the most special children on this planet, and I agree with her mother that you should not rush to judge without knowing the full story about her school environment and so on. Also, as an ESL professional, I am used to the misconception that any sort of accomplishment involving language is just about what native language one speaks. For example, people in other countries assume that a native speaker of English can teach English, regardless of whether the person knows anything about teaching or knows anything about what language actually consists of. The truth is so much more complex.

So, too, public speaking performance is about so much more than one's native language. There is no way she could have won if she had not been well prepared, inspired and articulate. Similarly, it would be entirely possible for a native Mandarin speaker to win this type of contest even with linguistic "flaws."

Regardless of your intentions, your comments just remind me again of what an extraordinary girl Mozart is, and I am really proud of her, too! (I don't know the family personally, but we have gotten acquainted online in the last couple of years.) She is AWESOME and will put this experience to excellent use. I can think of no other child I've known who would be better qualified to talk about "our green planet." She knows firsthand what she is talking about!

What a lucky girl she is, and how well she takes her "good luck" to the next level! CONGRATULATIONS TO MOZART and her supportive family (including her grandma, who was with her in recent weeks, no doubt infusing her with extra inner strength and self-confidence).

All good things shared with our children -- the children of all of us -- are what we can and should give them. They deserve our best -- and how blessed we humans are when they take our best and make it even better! Again, way to go, Mozart and family!


Congratulations to all three of you and thanks for sharing this celebration with us publicly. Of course, it is an impressive achievement - just the thought of speaking in front of a 1000 people makes me stomach sick (and I am no shrinking violet). But what I am equally impressed and would like to congratulate you and DaVinci is that you allowed your daughter to make her own choices. She wanted to entered the competition, she did. She wanted to skip lunch breaks to study, she did. She wanted to talk about how to save the planet, she did. Unfortunately, there are so many parents who have some preconceived ideas about what their kid should do or like and they do not nurture independence and self confidence. Raising such a talented child, on so many levels, is no easy task and I applaud you for that. Anyone who is a mother, or a nurturing soul, will understand and join me in the applause.

Congratulations again. To the THREE of you!

James Shannon

Wow ... congratulations Mozart! It's so heartening to see you excel in an environment that was so challenging to start with, and then to speak in front of 1000+ students, have them LOVE it, it should be an achievement you'll remember for a long time!

Have fun travelling this Spring, and enjoy the hawker food courts ... tonnes of out-of-this world food from all over the world (Korean to Chinese to Malay to Western etc etc etc)!

James Shannon

To clarify my previous comment, the food courts in question are in Singapore ... enjoy and try not to spend too much (all too easy in Singapore!)


Congratulations to Mozart for winning 1st prize!! I think it is amazing for anyone to be on stage in front of 1000 people let alone a 10 yo in front of older kids. Our 8 yo took the stage today to play piano in front of all the other proud parents of children who took their 1st year of piano, violin, flute and trumpet. And what a concert it was!!!!

We are geting ready for a 2 week trip to the Costa Brava, leaving april 10 and are planning to go camping in Portugal in the summer. Planning is sooooo much fun!!



Congratulations to Mozart ~ she sounds like a dedicated young lady ~ self disciplined to succeed in what she wants to achieve ~ well done to her ~ and thankyou for sharing about your family life ~ coming from UK it is interesting for me to read about other cultures as closely as you have shared personally ~ she certainly looks as bright as a button ~ and can't wait to hear about your travels commencing in May ~ once again very well done Mozart (beautiful name) (((hugs you all ))) Lib ~ @libithina

Camels & Chocolate

That's so amazing! Way to go, Mozart! She's such a cutie, too.


Wow, Jeanne, that's fantastic! Tell Mozart congrats from me. I cannot wait to watch the youtube video of her speech. Way to go, Mozart!


just to add to the comments above. When I was 13 we had a speech competition (in english) at my school. Who won it? A newly arrived Thai girk.Her grammar and pronunciation wasn't great and she was at times hard to understand.She won because her classmates (it was judged by the students) saw the immense effort she had had to go to and her strength to stand up in front of 35 13 year olds to speak beautifully.

She didb't win because her language skills were the best.There's a lot more to a speech than that.

Her topic? How smiles are universal.

This might give you something to think about, Julie


Congratulations to Mozart for winning - well done!

To address Julie's (rather mean) post - I'm an English teacher, and funnily enough, this coming Saturday, we have an English speech contest for our students. We had to whittle it down from about 200 kids to 50 or so.

Whilst some of the kids had good, clear pronunciation, if their delivery was boring and the content of their presentation too easy (slide one: This is Seoul. Seoul is big. slide two: This is Busan. Busan is big too. etc) then they didn't qualify. Speech contests are about more than just fluency.

Of course Mozart had an advantage when it came to fluency, but let me tell you - school children in Asia tend to be a lot more competitive than their western counterparts with things like speech contests, so I'm betting that the competition was stiff and that nobody thought "aww let the little blonde girl win". My boss certainly didn't hand marks out for cuteness at qualifications (although I have to say I was more susceptible to the little 2nd and 3rd graders haha!)

CONGRATULATIONS Mozart - or as we say here in Korea, 축하해요! (chook-ha-hay-yo!) ^^


Nicole @ WomanSeeksWorld

Fantastic, congratulations!

I just came across your blog today and I have to say its amazing - I look forward to following more of your journey from now on!

Margaret Sch.

I am envisioning Mozart someday giving a "Ted Talk" on this topic. We'll just have to wait patiently for that!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Aw Margaret, you are such a sweetheart and we all really appreciate your supportive words!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks so much Violeta for your kind and supportive words! I think one of the hardest parts in parenting is to find that balance of following the child's lead, trusting their soul to know what is right for them and also giving them the support and boundaries that they need.

Just putting a 10 year old in to a huge high school was a stretch for us but it felt right and has worked out well.

There are actually places in the speech that could be edited to a more professional level, but I honor her 10 year old "voice" as there is a purity to that.

I'd have rather she found a way to eat and rehearse ..and advised her on that without much success. ;)

I think it is empowering to kids when they have an area where they are experts in the family. Mozart has always had that with music and languages over her parents. Yet we are the ones who support her in attaining that. Funny.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks James! She had a lot of fun and it's always great to be loved, eh?

BTW she loves the hawker markets here too.

Glad we got to meet you in person when you were in Penang!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Nika! She was a little nervous but she loves to preform and she has been going in front of audiences ( with violin) since she was 2. So I think that helps, or maybe it is just her nature.

Congrats to your 8 year old! I can imagine how much fun that concert was!!

Enjoy your upcoming travels to the Costa Brava and Portugal..we love both!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks @libithina and for the hugs too! ;) We're looking forward to our travels too!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks a bunch Kristin! Cutie eh? Takes one to know one. ;)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Erica! We haven't even taped it yet, but hope to get it up before Earth Day!

It's not perfection, but it's cute for a 10 year old and I have no idea where she came up with it. I didn't even know it was one of her passions although green living does come up from time to time in our conversations.

Mostly I think she got it from her own reading.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks so much Lucy for sharing your story! Ahh,such a good point and example!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Aw, thanks Tom! What a wise perspective. The kids are really competitive here in Asia.

There is a sign in her school near her room that says "Be the best, beat the rest". ;)

There is a Korean boy here who is extremely competitive and in her class and when he first saw her speech in rehearsal he wanted to change his. LOL.

Yet, she also enjoyed the comradery of the practice sessions with kids from all grades..although she is a competitive type who loves to win and she is willing to take the risk.

She is also winning the book reading and book report writing contest, even though we will leave before the rewards are handed out.

I bet those cute 2nd & 3rd graders were adorable! ;)

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