April 6, 2018
UPDATE: Dionne placed second at the regional level for her speech in Mandarin and her tai chi fan form. Participants traveled from seven states and the District of Columbia to participate in the event, held at the University of Maryland-College Park. She has also recently been awarded a Boren Scholarship to study international business and Mandarin Chinese at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Katie Rose Dionne, Darla Moore School of Business freshman international business major and International Business Chinese Exchange (IBCE) student, won the Palmetto Chinese Star competition — a state-level contest put on by USC's Confucius Institute to give students learning about Chinese culture and language the opportunity to prove their skills.
She won at the state level with a speech in Chinese titled "Always Moving Forward" on learning to ride a bike while in Beijing and her performance of a traditional Chinese song. In late April, she will represent South Carolina in the "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition in Washington, D.C., where she will be doing traditional Tai Chi fan form for her cultural performance. If she wins at that level, she will head to Beijing to be on a nationally broadcast TV show affiliated with the Chinese Bridge competition.
That wouldn't be her first time traveling to China, though. At the end of high school, she received one of 15 National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarships from the U.S. State Department, which paid for her to live and take language and culture classes in Beijing.
"Chinese high school is hard," Dionne said. "You start at seven in the morning and go until five in the afternoon, and then you have enforced study session from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., but I was able to learn so much. It was such an invaluable experience because it helped me progress so much in my Chinese skills."
She also had the opportunity to live and learn from her host family. They showed her things from the best places to visit in Beijing to traditional Chinese dancing, which her host grandmother would do with her in a park on the weekends.
"I really feel like have two families now: one in America and one in Beijing," she said.
Now, as part of the Moore School's IBCE program, she will get to live in China again, this time to take college courses in Hong Kong.
"I'm excited about the food and being in a huge economic center, and I want to try to pick up Cantonese," she said. Dionne has already been learning Mandarin for the last five years.
All of these experiences and interactions with Chinese culture and language are building toward Dionne's current goal of working in international business in some capacity post-graduation.
"I think it would be very interesting to work in an environment where I could navigate the differences between our cultures and help build a bridge between our two countries," she said.
Throughout this whole competition process, USC's Confucius Institute as well as various professors have been supporting her and helping her prepare, and Dionne says she couldn't have made it this far without their help.
By Madeleine Vath