Champion Orator Jenny Zeng ’13 Speaks to the World

Winning a national competition is difficult enough, but what about winning a national competition in a country with more than 1.3 billion people? Jenny Zeng ’13, a new Lower from Beijing, China did just that. Zeng, an avid public speaker, rose to the top of a pool of 300,000 students in China and won the opportunity to speak to the world on public TV. The Phillipian sat down with Jenny to speak about her accomplishment. Q: What kind of competition did you participate in? A: I took part in a National English Speech competition by CCTV, a very famous news broadcasting station in China… the equivalent of CNN. There are many stages to the competition. The first stage is to get selected by the city among provinces, and then you go the capital, Beijing. Only 130,000 contestants get to go to this round. After that only ten people go through to the next round and then, finally, they choose the champion. When the top ten are chosen, they are broadcasted on TV. This happens during the summer so that other students who are interested or love to speak English get a chance to watch the competition. Q: What did you have to do in each round? A: The first round was to show your personal talent, to show yourself. My speech was about a superstar. Not a singer or actor, [but] rather a superstar that devotes himself or herself to a good cause. For my talent, I chose to sing and dance. The second round is to persuade others to do something. I am the ambassador of a center for children with autism, so I did a speech on persuading the public to aid and assist the education of autistic children. I wanted to use the TV as a platform to inform people about this cause, because in China, the aid is not nearly as advanced as here in America. The final round was to compete to become the president of a club. Each round has a Q and A session, in which the judges comment and ask you about your speech. Q: How did you learn about the competition? A: It is the most influential English [speech] competition in China. I think they started it about ten years ago. Also, it’s broadcasted on TV and is very popular among students who love English. Q: Why did you decide to compete in this competition? A: Well, I participated once when I was in middle school,…and I came in fifth in the national competition then, so I thought I would do it again in tenth grade. But this time I wanted to let people know about educating children with autism and how to help educate them. Q: How did you come to love English so much? A: When I was seven, my family moved to New Zealand. I didn’t know how to speak much English, but with the surrounding environment, I learned quickly. Actually, my most popular phrase my first year there was probably, “Sorry I don’t speak English. I’m a Chinese girl.” But afterwards I became really interested [in English] and studied more into it. I wanted to improve my skills, and that is also why I decided to participate in the competition. Q: How do you plan on using your public speaking skills at Andover? A: I am actually planning to run for new international student representative [in International Club]…I heard about Andover’s International Club way before I got here, and I am really excited about it, so I really, really want to join. I am also going to try Model UN. I have had some past experience so I want to try it here too. Q: What other activities do you enjoy, aside from public speaking? A: I love to dance. I started hip-hop and jazz about two years ago and am actually doing dance right now. I also did swimming and basketball in China, but I don’t know if it’ll be too competitive here. I also like photography. I am still an amateur, but I want to learn.