Mandarin TED Talk? American Kid's Inspiring Chinese Speech!

March 14, 2013


Wow! Mandarin TED Talk or not, this American girl's inspiring Chinese speech about Lao Tzu got her a big fat trophy from her 1000 kid Chinese High School in Asia and a feather in her cap forever. She won the English Elocution at this school at 10, but decided to go for the even harder Mandarin option this year and as well as writing her own speech ( rarely done) for the Chinese elocution contest and was the only non-Asian to compete in it. 

We are extremely proud of our 12 year old daughter and want to share this amazing speech with all of you!

Since Mandarin ( Pǔtōnghuà 普通话) is the native and dominant tongue here for all the kids in her Chinese school ( and even almost all of the foreign students are Asian and  speak related tonal languages as a mother tongue) the competition was stiff with huge numbers.

Of course, all the judges were Chinese.


She had to decide if she should compete in the English and Chinese, or focus on just one.


We think she went for the right choice to do just one this year because it's mid-term exam time here, so she didn't want to split her energy in too many directions. Funnily, the principal who knows she is excellent at public speaking, told her she should have done both. Maybe next year.


She loves competition and trophies, so now she has collected her third here ( she also placed in the singing competition last year and was the youngest finalist, for another trophy, but we only used her elocution trophies for this impromptu photo session to celebrate.


We were absolutely thrilled when she made the finals as we considered that alone as a major win, especially since she had been told by her teacher that it was a 4 minute speech and then found out at the final she had to shorten it to 3 minutes.

She had hoped to get first prize again,  but that went to an 18 year old senior who was only 2 points ahead of her, so she was more than satisfied to get the third place trophy, especially since she managed to beat other seniors in doing so. No easy task.

I am sure it is a record in the schools 63 year history to have a little blond Caucasian do this!

She worked hard, faced her fears and doubts, took risks, used her creativity, did her best, met challenges. What a kid. So we were happy she was rewarded for going after and obtaining this tough goal.

She certainly surprised us when she won the English elocution contest at 10, but we are super proud she went after the much riskier and harder choice this year. She was sad to miss these contests last year because we were late getting here as I was just too sick in California to return until after they had finished.

Looking at her very first video as she arrived as the only American and youngest in the school at 10,  you can see by comparison how far her Mandarin has come. This was where she was at on the first day.

Many talked about her doing a TED talk when she won the first contest. Perhaps she will be the first to do a TED talk in Mandarin or Spanish or perhaps all three of her languages. It's been fun to watch her discover her talents and interest in public speaking and singing. I am grateful to this school for that as well as the Mandarin and cultural immersion.

As parents who have worked hard to support her language acquisition and many other talents, it is very gratifying to see her at this age, on the cusp of turning into a teen this fall, and how our choices have worked out.

There is more to go of course, but after 7 years of this world travel lifestyle, one can see the benefits and we are all looking forward to more exciting years ahead!

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Smart and beautiful! All doors will open for her. That's amazing, Jeanne. Congrats to Mozart!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks so much for your kind words Anne! It is a LOT of hard work for anyone to learn 3 languages well, so we're very proud of her for this huge win!

We've gotten some amazing comments of Facebook and social media about it too which is very rewarding for Mozart to hear and understand her efforts and courage ( to be the only American in her large school) inspires others.

As monolingual parents we've had our doubts and overwhelm along the way trying to raise a trilingual/triliterate ( especially with the Mandarin which is a hard language) this reward and milestone means a lot to us as well.

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