She is the first student from GDUFS to pass the Competitive Language Examinations of the United Nations and has become a candidate for its Chinese-language interpreter corps. She is the young woman who gained access to the 2013 APEC summit in Indonesia and made her voice heard following her excellent performance in the MODEL APEC competition.
She's the one who won the national scholarship for graduates and the GDUFS Medal for top-honored students.
She is CHEN Qiong, a brilliant and rising star of GDUFS. As a third-year graduate in the School of Interpretation and Translation Studies, she accepted the invitation to interview from our correspondents and shared with them her stories along a journey full of opportunities and challenges as well as the story of making her way, all the way to the UN.
After graduating from high school, CHEN was admitted into Hunan Normal University and became an English major.
"I chose this university, not because I wanted to be a teacher, but because of the good reputation of its English major." CHEN continued, "English has been my greatest passion and I've had a dream of being an interpreter."
After graduation from college, a number of her fellow students started their careers as teachers, but she was confused about her future and was not so sure if she should really become a teacher. At that time, she happened to have a chance to be a volunteer teacher in Thailand, so she decided to give herself some time there to think clearly about her future.
"I love Thailand, but teaching kids Chinese there just couldn't give me as much job satisfaction and sense of fulfillment as did interpreting work." said CHEN.
During her one year of teaching in Thailand, she discovered that interpreting instead of teaching was her true calling, so she decided to return to college and pursue her master's degree. "Since I've come here, so far, why can't I go anywhere else, further? I can still do something I like before I turn 30." said CHEN.
CHEN in Thailand
Flying back from Thailand, CHEN chose GDUFS to further her education. What attracted her most was the small-class teaching and the close mentoring partnerships of the university as well as its big-name professors. CHEN managed to enter the elite class via examinations, where each class is made up of only eight students who specialize in international seminar interpreting.
No Pains, No Gains
People around her described Ms CHEN as a diligent student.
"When I see others working hard, I would have a sense of crisis because I am aware that diligence can make a lot of difference. There is no reason for me not to be hard-working." CHEN continued, "I am a self-disciplined person. I make plans and stick strictly to them."
At GDUFS, besides in-class learning, CHEN tried to improve both her skills and personality by taking part in a dozen competitions. At the MODEL APEC, one of the biggest competitions she had participated in, her efforts finally paid off.
The competition lasted four months. Only 21 international contestants from seven countries made it to the National Final.
"This is a role play" Chen continued, "You have to understand the fundamental interests of the country you represent and you must come up with something new by collecting the latest information about current affairs rather than simply repeating old ideas." For example, there was one time when she was to perform as a representative of Russia. At that time, President Putin had just gotten divorced. So she asked another contestant, who played the role of President Obama, something like "Our President Putin has just gotten divorced from his wife. Since you and Michelle are such an affectionate couple, can you give us some tips on marriage?"
CHEN at the APEC national final
Apparently, CHEN's sense of humor won the audience over. Having performed brilliantly at the competition, she secured herself a "ticket" to the 2013 APEC summits.
At the APEC CEO Summit in Bali, CHEN made her voice heard. She asked Japanese Prime Minister SHINZO Abe about the Japanese consumption tax and his "third arrow" policy. Later she queried Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak about construction of human capital. "It is a pity that I did not have the chance to question Chairman XI Jinping." said CHEN.
She also talked with entrepreneurs such as Chairman of the Board of HTC, WANG Xuehong, and her counterpart from Hainan Airlines Group, CHEN Feng. However, CHEN found herself not attracted by the commercial world. She was clear that the UN was her ultimate goal.
Making it to the UN
Last year, the Competitive Language Examinations of the United Nations were held in China, and aimed at recruiting Chinese-language interpreters at the P2/P3 level for the UN. Several thousand people applied to participate in the exams online, but only 185 of them were chosen to take the written examination in Beijing. And, from among these 185 candidates, only 13 made it to the final interview stage in Beijing. Surpassing all the challenges, CHEN has finally been placed on the roster for the LCE.
CHEN said the first round---the written examination---was designed to test the applicants' professional skills, while the second round---the interview---was more of a test of interpersonal skills, a test which was tailored to see whether the candidates' personalities were compatible with the values of the UN and its working atmosphere.
On the theme of working at the United Nations, CHEN said beamingly, "I've loved the UN for its open working atmosphere where people from different countries with varied backgrounds are respected and treated equally. And, it's a place where all young minds have equal opportunities to make a difference as long as they are capable enough."
Connecting the Dots
As a saying goes, "Every experience teaches." CHEN attributes the achievements she has made to the "dots" she has both collected and connected.
She has done a massive amount of reading since she was little, all of which she feels has contributed to her good command of the Chinese language. "I love literature! I finished reading QIONG Yao and JIN Yong's novels when I was in my teens. I also read a lot of works written by other famous writers. I even thought of challenging myself to read every book in the library when I was still an undergraduate." said CHEN, excitedly.
In addition, she feels that all the part-time jobs she took related to interpreting, and all the contests she competed in, all count toward her current success.
CHEN is most grateful to her teachers for the positive influences they gave her including those who taught her English during her undergraduate studies and perceived her talents in English interpreting, encouraged her to pursue her dream of being an interpreter,and the other at GDUFS, who pointed out her weaknesses in interpreting and, by this constructive criticism, helped her to improve her professional skills.
She also considers herself lucky to have had the opportunity to take the LCE immediately before her graduation since it is only given every few years at a time when the United Nations recruits interpreters. When opportunities came knocking, she did not hesitate to seize them.
A Reckless Heart
CHEN also has a taste for adventure. She has traveled to many places in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Henan and more. Traveling has enabled her to experience something new and has helped her to grow up and become mature. In a couple months, CHEN is going to work for a time in Malaysia before she is needed at the UN.
Chen playing at ths seaside
"If you don't step out of your comfort zone, you will never know how far you can go." CHEN said, "You really have to go out there to explore all kinds of possibilities." She feels that, had she not challenged herself, she would never have managed to achieve her potential, let alone make it all the way to the United Nations.
For those who are still struggling to find their own place in the world, CHEN suggested they join in various activities and competitions, observing people around them and finding out what kind of person they want to become. Only when they have role models will they be motivated to pursue the lives they want to live.
She also said, "Most of the time, you have to be alone in the pursuit of your dreams, so it is important to learn to be friends with loneliness."