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Students in Wofford Chinese program sweep beginning level proficiency competition

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Palmetto Chinese Star contest presented by Confucius Institutes
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Three students in Wofford College’s Chinese Language and Studies program recently swept the beginning level of Chinese proficiency in speech in the second Palmetto Chinese Star Language Contest hosted in Columbia, S.C., by the Confucius Institutes at Presbyterian College and the University of South Carolina. Another won first place in the advanced level of Chinese proficiency in the competition.

In the beginning level competition, Rachel Woodlee, a junior from Greer, S.C., took first place; Megan Kusek, a senior at Converse College from Owens Cross Roads, Ala., who is taking the Chinese 202 course at Wofford, took second place; and Gregory Pullen, a freshman from Huntersville, N.C., was the third-place winner in the beginning level competition. Pullen also won the “Future Palmetto Star.”

Ben Walsh, a senior from Columbus, Ga., and a student in the Chinese 402 course, took first place in the advanced level competition.

The Palmetto Chinese Star is an annual event for Chinese language students from across South Carolina to come together and demonstrate their language proficiency. This year’s event was held Feb. 19 at USC, with 45 contestants competing from Wofford College, Furman University, Bob Jones University, the University of South Carolina, Presbyterian College and Columbia High School. Seventeen students from the Wofford program participated.

Participants were divided into beginner and advanced levels and competed in language proficiency and cultural performance categories. The presentations included monologue and poem recitals, skits, Chinese folk songs and calligraphy.

A senior Chinese language student from USC won the grand prize “Palmetto Chinese Star” and will represent South Carolina in April in the Chinese Bridge National Competition in Washington, D.C. Wofford’s Sammy Nassri, a 2010 graduate of Wofford from Orangeburg, S.C., won that honor in the inaugural Palmetto Chinese Star competition last year.

The Confucius Institute at Presbyterian College for the Upstate is the result of a successful partnership effort between Presbyterian College and partner institutions Converse College, Wofford College, Furman University and Clemson University. Aided by a grant from the Office of Chinese Language Council International (HANBAN), the Confucius Institute strengthens Chinese language and culture programs at the participating colleges and universities while broadening and facilitating community outreach programs and commercial exchanges between the Upstate business community and China. Of equal importance, the Confucius Institute helps to prepare our students by integrating Chinese language programs into the K-12 curriculum, in collaboration with the S.C. State Department of Education.