Student engagement 2.0: Reconnecting once more…

Student engagement 2.0: Reconnecting once more…CHL

It’s challenging to picture a ‘normal’ classroom and on-campus experience for students anymore. COVID-19 has left an indelible mark on what was once taken for granted as regular campus life. In fact, the new normal is a screen—without even thinking, we simply take to our digital spaces in isolation and work, study or communicate. And while great skills, such as adaptability and remote location work, have emerged from this pandemic—the biggest casualty has been social engagement.

With this in mind, the faculty members of the Chinese language program at ANU CHL put their minds together—surely, there was a way to combine the primary goals of student engagement and effective and enjoyable immersion in Chinese cultural studies?

And that’s how the idea for a student’s talent show was born. It was the ideal platform for CHL’s Chinese language students to not only continue learning and enjoying their Chinese cultural study, but also indulge in much-needed interaction and fun with their community. The vision, through this talent show, was also to provide students with an opportunity to celebrate their great achievement in language learning and showcase their Chinese language skills. And by bringing in those students who are still overseas via Zoom, the objective of enhancing a sense of ANU student community beyond campus was also met.

It’s Showtime!

Peking opera, Chinese poetry, Cantonese music, calligraphy—this and lots more will be on show at the first-ever Chinese Language Students Talent Show, a first-of-its-kind event on campus and online. Students with a hidden talent and a flair for the creative will get their five minutes of fame on stage, showcasing a versatile array of skills and talents to entertain, and share their culture with, the audience. Here’s a sneak preview of some talents people will be treated to!


Junze Deng

Meet Junze, who speaks Mandarin, English, and Cantonese with a strong Hunan accent. He likes video filming and making vlogs. His biggest ideal is world peace, and on a smaller scale, to eat rice noodles at the food stall next to his house tomorrow morning!

Junze will sing a Cantonese song, Lower Albert Road (下亚厘毕道), at the talent show.

Prue Medway

Meet Prue, who grew up on a property in Yass, NSW and went to boarding school in Sydney for high school. She has been learning Chinese since high school and has loved the subject so much that she decided to continue learning the language at university. She has been to China once in 2018 on a learning trip with the School, and she found the experience to be game changing for her—not only was she able to learn Chinese in China, but she also got to immerse herself in the captivating culture. Prue plans to definitely head back to China as soon as possible! Prue will be working some magic at the talent night, with poetry and translation!

Alastair Anderberg

Meet Alastair, a student in the Master of Engaging Asia Program at ANU. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Commerce at the University of Newcastle in 2020. He has enjoyed singing jazz since he was young, and has also been involved in amateur theatre for many years.

He will be performing a song, Rose, Rose, I Love You (玫瑰玫瑰我爱你), written in 1940 by Chen Gexin (陳歌辛) and Wu Cun (吳村) and first recorded by Yao Lee (姚莉). While preparing for this show, Alastair has become interested in Shidaiqu (時代曲) and looks forward to getting to know more about the culture of jazz in China.

Aymon Holth, Vikram Sondergaard and Jack Lacovangelo

Meet Aymon 艾蒙, a first year student majoring in engineering. Aymon has been learning Chinese since 2015, and for the talent show, he’s going to team up with 宋为 (Vikram Sondergaard) to perform some ‘cross-talk’ (相声)!

Meanwhile, Jack Lacovangelo will play a role in a sketch in the talent show!

Jiayi Zhu

Meet Jiayi Zhu—she’s going to be mesmerising the audience with the Guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument, also known as the Chinese harp. It is a beautiful music instrument with over 2,000 years of history. Jiayi Zhu’s been playing it for 12 years, since she was 6 years old, and is actually now a Guzheng teacher!

Emma Russell

Meet Emma, a student of Bachelor of Languages with a major in Chinese. Emma has had an interest in Chinese language and culture since she was a little girl, and she is really excited to perform in Chinese. Emma will be singing the Chinese version of Into The Unknown from Frozen II, as sung by Weina Hu (胡维纳). Needless to say, another big passion of Emma’s is Disney movies!

Suzette Drummond

Meet Suzette—she spends a lot of her time moving from city to city in Australia and China, and she can confidently say China has been one of the places she would call home. In 2015, she went on a short six-week exchange to Sichuan Province, Chengdu City. Suzette loved China so much that she returned the following year to spend her entire year 10 studies in Heilongjiang Province, Jiamusi City. After Suzette graduated from high school, she didn't spare a minute before returning to China to study at the University of Foreign Languages in Liaoning Province, Dalian City. China has captivated Suzette from the very beginning, so she hopes with some specialty Chinese steamed buns, she can pass on a little bit of the Chinese culture to all who long to go to China but cannot be there right now!

Gabriela Powell Thomas

Meet Gabriela, who is currently in her first year of the ANU Master of Asian and Pacific Studies programme, with a particular focus on China and Chinese language. She began learning Chinese at the start of her undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney in 2018. Music has always been a great learning tool for Gabriela, as it encompasses both language and culture in a myriad beautiful ways. She is excited to present a violin performance with Anita Hu.

Alexandra Issa, Jack Treston and Milia Davidson

Meet Alexandra, a fourth year student of Science/Arts with an Arts major in Chinese. Alex is originally from Sydney and has been studying Chinese since high school. She has learned so much while being a part of the Chinese program at ANU, and it has been such an enjoyable experience thanks to the amazing cohort and teachers. Alex will participate in a group video with Milia Davidson and Jack Treston on the declining marriage rates in China and hopes everyone enjoys the discussion and creative outfits!

Jack Treston is a third year student at ANU studying a Bachelor of International Relations and a Bachelor of Languages. He is majoring in the Chinese language and has been learning Chinese since he was in high school. He has traveled extensively through China. His favourite place in China is a tie between the grasslands of Inner Mongolia and the Yellow Mountains of Anhui province. Jack hopes to visit China again soon and eat some delicious hotpot!

Milia Davidson grew up in Shanghai and Hong Kong throughout her primary school years, where she began learning Mandarin and fell in love with the culture. Before COVID, Milia would travel back to Shanghai and Hong Kong every couple of years as her family loves it there. She is currently in her third year of university, studying a Bachelor of International Security Studies and Bachelor of Commerce, and has been studying Chinese throughout her time at ANU.

To George Yau

Meet George, who loves languages, speaks a few already and can write in various writing systems. Hopefully one day an employer will realise his talent with adapting to new languages, cultures and environments. 有时候无聊,我会练习写西夏文字。(When he gets bored, he practises writing ancient Chinese scripts of the Western Xia Dynasty)! George will demonstrate the art of calligraphy writing at the talent show.

Milla Harrison

Meet Milla, a second year student doing a Bachelor of Asian Studies at ANU with a major in Chinese Studies. She lived in Beijing in 2019, and is really excited to go back! She loves listening to Chinese music of all kinds, and likes to sing along when she can. She's excited to see all the performances at the talent show and learn more about the culture she's studying. Milla is going to do a rendition of a popular song called Big Fish together with Cantonese 1 student Yunfan Shao.

Connect and Celebrate

With such a great variety of talents, everyone is in for a really great evening of Chinese culture and celebration. And even if you’re not among those performing, this is the perfect chance to reconnect, reinvigorate, and refresh your brain with some fun social interaction!