Huang Wei: “It was the first time I performed in Chinese, so I had butterflies in my stomach. I was so anxious before each show that I couldn’t help asking myself repeatedly: ‘Have I remembered all the lines? Will my style on the stage be good enough?'”
Huang Wei (U.S.)
December 11, 2009 was a great day for me because the Fourth Confucius Institute Conference was held in Beijing and I hosted an evening gala showcasing the Confucius Institute’s accomplishments. When the show was over, some officials came onto the stage, shook hands and took photos with us. With video cameras humming and lights flashing on and off, the passion and joy of the night were recorded. No one was aware of the sweat dripping down my microphone.
I developed a liking for the stage when I was in high school. I am even a veteran of some public singing and speaking in the United States. When I came to China, I became engrossed in study. I had stayed away from the stage until I attended the Chinese Competition for Overseas Students in China in the summer of 2009.
It was the first time I performed in Chinese, so I had butterflies in my stomach. I was so anxious before each show that I couldn’t help asking myself repeatedly: “Have I remembered all the lines? Will my style on the stage be good enough?” Still fresh in my memory is an occasion when I was supposed to give a talk on the topic: My Favorite Chinese Food: Hand-Pulled Noodles. To appear elegant and handsome, I wore a traditional mandarin jacket. Waving a fan, I recited some poems so intensely that I staggered on the stage. I didn’t realize how awkward I was until I watched the video later. I was even holding the fan the wrong way!
However, I won a silver medal at the competition. I became a familiar face to more and more people so that I got successive invitations to be a host in the following months.
Hosting in Chinese was a real trial for a guy who grew up in the United States. When I anchored the first large evening event, my partner was Kelly Cha, an experienced anchoress who spoke two languages. Hardly had I finished my Chinese lines when she started with a stream of fluent American English. Dumfounded, I was at a loss for quite a while. “What? What did you say?” Having made a spectacle of myself, I became more and more scrupulous about my shows. Now, two days before each show, I start my preparations in what is best described as a crazy time. I spend almost every minute memorizing the lines: in the morning, at the table or on the road. Sometimes while driving, I force my girlfriend to practice the lines with me. Even in my dreams I utter the lines.
I dream of becoming an excellent, entertaining, bilingual anchor. Although I make mistakes from time to time, I have perseverance and keep dreaming. Dear friends, see you next time on TV!
Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Magazine 07. Volume II. March 2010.