10/24/2008

All-Taiwan Presentation Contest

I ran over to Danshui (淡水) this afternoon to act as a judge for the Cross Taiwan University Presentation Contest. I was to judge the nine finalists on presentation skills; the four categories for breaking down the presentations were content, skill and effects (for PowerPoint and public speaking), English and flair. I do these contests from time-to-time, and often find myself pinching a leg to stay awake. For today's show, I thought I should have been paying admission. They were that good. The nine presentations included:

1. The History of George Leslie Mackay
2. I Love Taiwan: How to Promote Taiwan to the World
3. Taiwan Dance
4. Pepper Beef Pies
5. The Flag of Taiwan Should Not Be Chinese Taipei
6. Bananas: Taiwan's Wonder Crop
7. Chinese Education: Why Chinese Kids Are Better than American Kids
8. Taimali (太馬里): Why Isn't This a Famous Tourist Destination?
9. Betel Nut and the Beauties that Sell It

Group number five won it hands down. All of the judges had them ranked number one. They started out by doing a little PowerPoint on the history of the Taiwanese flag. Then they moved on to how it has been pushed aside by international organizations in favor of China, and their Chinese Taipei flag. The presenters told us, as if answering the second group who had stated: "The way to promote Taiwan internationally is through TV", that Taiwan could only find a place by action, the kind we see in the individuals or groups in the international arena. They were having nothing to do with TV ads or the like. Instead, they focused Kevin Lin, the Taiwanese iron man, and the Tzu Chi (慈濟) charity organization here in Taiwan http://www.tzuchi.org/ to underline their point.

According to group number five, Lin, a world-famous endurance runner, was taking part in an event in France when he noticed the Taiwanese flag hanging upside down. When he pointed this out to the officials, he was brushed aside. From that moment, he swore to promote this issue and other Taiwan points as well. Lin has come to prominence after finishing ultra-marathons across the Sahara and Antarctica: http://www.gio.gov.tw/taiwan-website/5-gp/yearbook/21sports.html I like this picture of him waving the flag in front of the pyramids, at: http://www.gio.gov.tw/taiwan-website/5-gp/yearbook/21sports.html

For me, the Tzu Chi segment was just as interesting. These kids explained that the foundation was able to support Burma with meaningful donations and assistance after this year's cyclone ravaged the country even though everyone else in Taiwan was simply pouring money into China to help out with the earthquake. That Tzu Chi was able to see this humanitarian cause not along racial lines - we can help these people even though they are not Han Chinese - was quite an achievement; it also sent a special message to the world.

After the contest was over, I had a chance to talk to Group Number 5. They seemed to see me as responsible for their win...

Kids: We were really happy to see a "foreigner" on the panel of judges.
Me: I'm not a foreigner - I'm American.
Kids: Oh yeah? Where do you come from?
Me: These days I just say Taiwan. Let's talk about your presentation. Good stuff.
Kids: Thanks. It's like what we said. We were happy to see you.
Me: What do you mean?
Kids: Well, we thought we'd have a chance to win.
Me; What are you talking about?
Kids: Our topic is pretty controversial. It was political, so we didn't know if the judges would agree or disagree.
Me: I simply marked you on your presentation. I liked your politics, but even if I had hated them, you still would've won. It's not about what I believe - that's irrelevant. BTW, good job.
Kids: We were afraid we'd piss the judges off. Actually, we had a Taiwan flag, but we decided to leave it behind for this reason. We wanted to wave it around and wrap ourselves in it.
Me: You should just think about giving a good presentation, and expressing yourselves as well as you can. You can only do that if you are honest. I don't think that finishing first or finishing sixth is the point. Just say what you think, and be satisfied with that.
Kids: [one student clenching his fists and agreeing] That's what I told them!

I've seen a lot of these contests. I put this one in the top two of all time. These kids were go-getters, the best and the brightest, and I consider myself fortunate to have been a participant.

2 comments:

Fili said...

Sounds Interesting. Is there some place where I can find those presentations online?

Patrick Cowsill said...

I'll look around / call around to see if I can find some.