High-achieving student wins multiple awards
2019 has been a fruitful year for Onehunga High School Year 12 student, Victoria Talalelei Amani. After placing third in the NZ Chinese Bridge Speech Competition in Wellington, she travelled to China last month to represent New Zealand in the televised world final championship.
The event is a famous reality show on Chinese television, and the most popular language competition in China. Remarkably, Victoria also won first place in a recent NZ School Students Chinese Song Contest run by Victoria University, winning her another trip to China in December.
The impressive placing gave her one of only four national Youth Ambassador titles, as well as a China Study Camp Scholarship. This awards outstanding students with a unique Chinese language and culture immersion experience in the Guizhou area of China. The experience gives students the opportunity to practice what they have learned in school, and iit s a chance for them to improve their Chinese communication skills.
Victoria arrived in New Zealand from Samoa in 2016 for education, leaving behind her parents and family. Samoan is her first language, so improving her English was another challenge in itself. Learning Mandarin motivated her to keep busy and focus on learning, and helped keep her education on track.
She says, “It was difficult in the beginning, because everything was new and different. I didn’t know anyone so I was very homesick. There were times when I felt overwhelmed, but I had to remember where I started. At times I still can’t believe it, but looking back now, it’s starting to sink in. I feel proud. So when times get hard, I have to remind myself how far I’ve come.”
On her first trip to China, Victoria says locals were shocked to hear her speak fluent Chinese, especially at the market. She admits that Mandarin characters and tones are the most difficult things to master, but she encourages people of all ages and races to take on the challenge of learning a new language, especially with the rewarding experiences and opportunities that come with it.
(Victoria Talalelei Amani receiving her award for placing first in the School Students Chinese Song Contest)