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The Contest

We ran the #whyspeakchinese contest in 2017 for a few different reasons:

First, we wanted to see what students are thinking about their Chinese learning journeys.

Second, we wanted to celebrate their hard work and get them some prizes.

Third, we wanted these videos to serve as inspiration for students who haven’t yet started learning Chinese and show them how many of their peers from so many different backgrounds are learning Chinese—and loving it.


The GRAND PRIZE WINNER this year was Liam Costomiris. He won two roundtrip tickets to China —one for him and one for his friend Stewart Lerner, who co-starred in the video! Check out the winning video here. It got 19,473 likes!

Liam and Stewart will make a video during their China trip, and we’ll post that here when it’s ready. Watch this space!

Additionally, the China Learning Initiatives staff selected a few videos that we think are the most creative, most unexpected, and most fun. Check them out!

You can also check out this mash-up video of all participants. If you entered a video, look closely—you might see yourself!


All videos had to be posted by May 31, 2017. Participants then had until June 30th to get their video seen and liked. Final tallies were conducted in early July. The winner was announced on July 25, 2017.


To enter the contest, participants followed three easy steps:

  • Make a short (up to 1:30) video, in English, to include the following components:
    • Start by asking the question: “Why speak Chinese?”
    • Introduce yourself and explain why you’re passionate about studying Chinese.
    • Tell us something else you’re passionate about (aside from studying Chinese)
    • End your video by saying: “Why speak Chinese? That’s my reason. How about you?”
  • Post your video on Instagram or Twitter. Make sure you hashtag it #WhySpeakChinese.
    • Instagram accounts must be public order to be eligible and must include the hashtag #WhySpeakChinese.
    • Twitter accounts must be public in order to be eligible and must include the hashtag #WhySpeakChinese and tag @AsiaSocietyEDU.
  • Get as many of your friends and family as you can to “like” your video!

If you missed the #whyspeakchinese contest in 2017, we’ll be running the contest in the spring of 2018. If you participated this year but didn’t get the grand prize, it’s never too early to start planning for next year!

Want to know more? Read our Frequently Asked Questions.


  • The follow frequently asked questions apply to the 2017 contest. These will be updated prior to the start of the 2018 contest.

    • Why can’t I use Facebook to post my video?
      • We recommend posting your video to a public Instagram or Twitter account. We do not recommend posting to Facebook and removed it from the social media options on April 3, 2017. We have found that Facebook doesn’t play well with others, and videos posted to Facebook often do not show up correctly on our website.
      • If you have a video that you shared to Facebook before April 3 that’s not showing up on our site, we recommend reposting to Instagram or Twitter (don’t forget the #whyspeakchinese hashtag!) and then emailing us with the link to your original video—that way we can make sure we’re giving you credit for all the “likes” you’ve received while also making sure your video can be seen on our site and by the widest possible audience.
    • If my friends share my video, and collect likes from their posting, does it count toward my tally?
      • Absolutely, any likes of shared and reposted clips will be counted in favor of the original maker of the video.
    • Can I post more than one video?
      • Absolutely, you can post as many as you’d like, and all “likes” from the same handle/screen name will be combined in our count.
    • How would you contact me if I am the the winner?
      • We will reach out to you using your handle/screen name of the social media platform where you posted your most liked clip.
      • You will have 48 hours to respond (if we don’t hear from you, we will have to give the prize to someone else.)
    • If I win, how do I receive the airfares?
      • You will win two airfares, because we want you to take another person with you so you can show them around the China you know! We will need personal information from you and your companion in order to reserve your airfares for you. Airfare must be booked by December 31, 2017, for travel before December 31, 2018.
    • How do I contact you?


2017 Submissions


Chinese writing was as ancient to the Roman Empire, as is the Roman Empire to us.

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig played the Shanghai Panda in 1934. Who won?

Which character on dollar bills have visited China? Ulysess Grant in 1879. What was he doing there? Whom did he meet?

The largest telescope was recently installed in the mountains of southwest China. What is it looking for?

Chinese astronomers recorded a supernova in March–April of 5 B.C.E. which was visible for over 70 days. Did they actually spot the Star of Bethlehem?

Ezra Pound’s prescriptions for becoming a poet: “You read all the poets of the English language in chronological order, you learn Chinese, you learn enough Provençal to read the troubadours.” What will you cover next?


April 12, 2017 | Bloomberg

How China Can Become a True Climate Leader

April 10, 2017 | The Climate Group

In 2016, China’s Solar Capacity Grew to Double the US

April 8, 2017 | Business Insider

17 Facts About China That Will Blow Your Mind

April 7, 2017 | Bloomberg

How to Build China’s City of the Future

April 3, 2017 | LifeHackLane

20 Facts You Never Knew About China

March 29, 2017 | South China Morning Post

Construction Crew in China Unearths Tomb with 500-Year-Old Mummies

March 28, 2017 | Tea Leaf Nation

How China Became a Sci-Fi Powerhouse

March 27, 2017 | South China Morning Post

Carrie Lam is Hong Kong’s Next Chief Executive

March 24, 2017 | China Daily

Chinese company acquires SeaWorld

March 23, 2017 | Xinhua

American-born panda moves to Chengdu

March 22, 2017 | The Washington Post

Lippi Leads China Over S. Korea in World Cup Qualifier

March 21, 2017 | The Washington Post

Climate Outlook Improves as Fewer Coal Plants Built

March 20, 2017 | The New York Times

Finding the Joys of Jianbing Across New York

March 18, 2017 | South China Morning Post

Is Google Another Step Closer to Being Unblocked in China?

March 17, 2017 | The Washington Post

Asia Remains Crown Jewel for Tiffany During Strong 4Q

March 13, 2017 | China Daily

Traversing the Silk Road on Foot


Contest Partners

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China Learning Initiatives, part of the Center for Global Education at Asia Society, aims to make Chinese language and culture more approachable and accessible for students and the public. The Center for Global Education’s vision is to empower youth from all countries and cultures to have the capacity to create, participate in, and benefit from a peaceful and prosperous world. The parent organization, Asia Society, is dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context.


Visit the Center for Global Education.


Whether you’re new at learning Mandarin or speaking fluently, there is a wealth of online materials to help you support your learning. But another important aspect of learning language is connecting to other learners, sharing you experiences, asking questions, and getting a broader understanding of the culture and country the language evolved in. Learn about some initial resources for enriching your Chinese studies online.


Know of another resource that’s great but not included above? Send us a quick note with the resource and a brief explanation of how you found it to be valuable. If we post it, we’ll credit you as having contributed it!