By Lauren Lavelle
Helping students in China expand their creativity and strengthen their imagination was a unique opportunity for an associate professor of Chinese for the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures this past May.
Dr. Shunzhu Wang was part of a panel of distinguished judges at the first Peking University Peiwen Cup National Youth English Creative Writing Contest, held in China.
“I was very humbled and honored,” said Wang. “The people they select from outside of China are prestigious, more prestigious than I am, so therefore I was very surprised.”
The contest, which included over 10,000 submissions, was aimed at Chinese teenagers interested in expanding their horizons through creativity and globalization.
Wang, an accomplished writer and translator, appreciates the diversity the contest introduced, something he believes is lacking in the creative writing world in China.
“They used to expect you to follow a certain theme; it is more open-ended now,” said Wang. “It is particularly important for college students to be creative rather than follow a certain pattern. We need more imagination. Learn something and, based on what you learn, let your imagination fly. It is very good to see this in China because the writing used to be more guided, more structured.”
While Wang was not a central part of the judging process, he is grateful for the experience and opportunity to work alongside so many acclaimed scholars.
“The job is mostly done by the judges from China,” said Wang. “Only when they have problems or wonder what we think of an entry do they need us. People from the United States who are teaching in China do most of the work.”
For students hoping to pursue a career path similar to his, Wang stressed the importance of learning a foreign language and being familiar with the world in general.
“It is an age of globalization,” said Wang. “The world is becoming smaller, so it is more and more important to know not just your native tongue, but the language of other countries. You can take a few classes or minor in a different language and it will give you a competitive edge in the job market.”