Orangeburg student claims first Palmetto Chinese Star award
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Sammy Nassri, a senior pre-medical student at Wofford College, will represent South Carolina in the ninth annual Chinese Bridge National Competition at the University of Maryland on April 10. The winner goes on to Beijing for the international finals this summer.
Nassri, from Orangeburg, S.C., claimed the first Palmetto Chinese Star award for an outstanding cultural presentation about his recent travels and studies in China and his demonstration of calligraphy. The competition was hosted by the Confucius Institute at Presbyterian College on Feb. 27.
Nassri said that the contest was rewarding in that it gave him an opportunity to see how he had progressed through the Chinese curriculum compared to students in similar programs at other colleges and universities.
“I was attracted to Wofford by its reputation as a good place to prepare for a career in the health-care professions,” Nassri said. “I needed to fulfill a foreign language requirement, and so I started out with the basic courses in Chinese. It was challenging at first, but soon I was enjoying my studies so much that I decided to make Chinese a second major. I think the lesson from my experience is that we should not be afraid to explore subjects outside our primary fields of interest.”
In addition to the competition in cultural presentations, there were 25 competitors in the Confucius Institute state language competition this year, including students from Wofford, Furman, the University of South Carolina, Presbyterian College and Beaufort Academy. Among the eight Wofford students, Amy Powers and Emily Phillips earned second-place honors, finishing behind a native Chinese speaker. Caroline Lazaro, Harry Quedenfeld and Nassri were recognized with third-place awards.
“In the speech contest, both Emily and Sammy talked about their experiences in China,” says Dr. Li Qing Kinnison, associate professor of Chinese studies. “I believe our strong study abroad program has a great impact on the Chinese language skills, which led to their achievements in the contest.”
In addition to his work in Chinese and biology classes and studies abroad in China, Nassri, from Orangeburg, S.C., participated in last summer’s Wofford Community of Scholars program, studying and writing about traditional Chinese acupuncture, cupping, massage, and herbal medicine. In his research, he examined the degree of integration of traditional Chinese biomedical practices in America, and the degree to which this hybridization is able to improve the quality of patient care.