Wu Po-te, 24, believes logic gave him the edge in winning the 18th China Daily “21st Century Coca-Cola Cup” National English Speaking Competition in Xiamen. But being crowned the national top speaker required more than just logic.
It was Wu’s first visit to the mainland from Taiwan, where he is studying at Fu Jen Catholic University. In contrast to the other participants, who were all accompanied by their friends, tutors and even parents, Wu came to Xiamen alone on short notice. His tutor was unable to accompany him.
Wu’s major is also quite special ― Clinical Psychology and English Literature, which he believes gave him another edge with its marriage of emotion and reason.
“My knowledge in psychology enables me to find an interesting angle to analyze issues and reading English literature grants me the ability to effectively structure a story,” said Wu.
He cited the example of Ang Lee, the film director, who is an *alumnus of Wu’s high school.
“Ang Lee has a sensitive heart, but his works are very disciplined. I am an emotional person, but I need to tell the story in a logical way,” said Wu.
In his speech that won over the panel of judges in the final round of the competition, Wu shared the story of how he recovered from a car accident with the aid of literature. He said the thoughts, sentiments and narratives of literary works allowed him to express himself in an efficient and elegant way.
“By drawing on the various thoughts I have absorbed with the assistance of logic, I can be understood quite easily,” said Wu.
Commenting on how to organize different ideas into a well-supported argument, Wu said the best way to learn is by teaching.
Wu has a younger brother and sister and has been teaching them since primary school. In senior high school he worked as a private tutor, and at university he took a course on teaching children to read through picture books.
“When you teach, your thoughts and arguments must be well-organized for students to understand,” said Wu.
Speaking of winning the title, he said it was a surprise for him. He only had one week to prepare for the competition and wrote his winning speech hours before the grand final.
But Wu said the real trophy he will take back to Taiwan are the many friends he made during the competition.
“I thought I would be all alone because I don’t know anyone here,” said Wu. “But my peers on the mainland, both contestants and audience members, were so friendly that they made me feel very at home.”