加油! Jiāyoú! The Chinese colloquialism — which literally translates to “step on the gas!” and is used to express words of encouragement like “go for it!” or “good luck!” — epitomized the spirit of this year’s Chinese Poetry Recitation Contest. The event, held for the 3rd time last Thursday, Oct. 29, is organized every other year by the Chinese Language Program within the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Faculty, students, staff, and interested members of the public convened in the Harvard-Yenching Auditorium at 2 Divinity Ave. to listen to student performances of traditional and contemporary Chinese verse while snacking on an assortment of Chinese pastries and beverages. Before the recitals, an upbeat video showcased students explaining their reasons for taking the language, featured instructor skits in Chinese, and ended in a chorus of “Jiāyoús” as inspiration for the contest. Taking the enthusiastic applause as a cue, emcees Qianqian Yang, Van Rhyn Jacques (both fourth-year Chinese language students), and Amanda Fang (a fifth-year student), took to the stage to commence the recitations.
This year’s 32 contestants were organized into three groups based on skill level, starting with beginners, intermediate students, and advanced students, respectively. Emcee Amanda Fang noted the “poetic atmosphere” in the room and predicted performances to be “wholly successful” throughout the “beautiful autumn afternoon.”