Skip to main content

Announcing the 2011 International Education Week Contest Winners

In November of 2011 the Ayusa headquarters office received an amazing amount of submissions for this year's International Education Week contest. The Ayusa students who participated in this exciting event sponsored by the Department of State sent in applications that proved Ayusa students are being excellent junior ambassadors and achieving great things through cultural exchange. From a large number of remarkable entries our selection committee chose three contestants who really stood out from the crowd, as well as two honorable mentions. Thank you to everyone who submitted applications for your hard work, dedication, and creativity!

1st place: NianWu Zhang (China)
2nd place: Mariyam Suleman (Pakistan)
3rd place: Kaerels Fernandez (Philippines)

1st: NianWu is an Ayusa student living with the Bidwell family in Windsor, Colorado. NianWu really impressed this year’s IEW judges by giving presentations to a total of over 240 people at his high school. NianWu began preparing for his presentations by doing research in his home country of China before even coming to the States. Once in the U.S., NianWu consulted with his host family about what topics would most interest Americans. Armed with the information from this research, he prepared 14 separate presentations, each lasting from 60-90 minutes, that were based on the audience he was presenting to. Among others, he covered Chinese geography in Geography class, performed a Beijing opera in Theater, discussed Chinese culture in Social Studies, revealed Chinese myths and urban legends to his Mythology class, and explored the differences between Western and Eastern medicine with his Health class students.

NianWu presented each of these audiences with a slide show that consisted of detailed information and great visual imagery, and his anecdotes and sense of humor kept his fellow students and teachers engaged and interested in learning all they could about China. As one observer stated, “NianWu’s presentation in my class led to an amazing and interactive discussion…he was very good at elaborating on his slides and answering everyone’s questions frankly.” Videos of several of NianWu’s presentations can be viewed here.

Photo: NianWu talking about traditional Chinese games.

2nd: Mariyam is a YES scholarship student from Pakistan who lives with the Saunders family in Coquille, Oregon. Mariyam presented four amazing presentations to four very different audiences, including an elementary school, a women’s club, a community church, and the high school she attends. She really impressed this year’s judges with the variety that these presentations entailed, including slides about Pakistan’s culture and traditions, teaching young children how to write their names in her native language of Balochi, wearing traditional dress to the presentations, cooking Gajar ka Halwa, a Pakistani dessert, and drawing Henna on some of the students who attended her presentation. Mariyam’s application spoke volumes about the philosophy put forth in her presentations that “while we speak different languages and have different cultures, there are still many things that we share…we are all the same.”

Photo: Mariyam teaching children how to write their names in her native language of Balochi.

3rd: Kaerels from the Philippines really showed her level of commitment to IEW by changing the content of her presentations for each audience that she presented to at her high school, local elementary and middles schools. Kaerels put together a very thoughtful presentation that told about the different dialects, school system, traditional dress and foods (including preparing dishes native to her country) of the Philippines. Her engaging style and love for her country made a strong impact on those who attended her presentations. Some of Kaerel’s teachers had this to say about her: “She did an amazing job. Her information was interesting and personal. She was excited about presenting and did great with the young audiences.”

Photo: Kaerels with some of her presentation attendees.            

  Honorable Mention: Because the competition was so fierce this year, the judges decided to award honorable mention to two students whose applications also stood out from the others.

Sofia Naureen, a YES scholarship student, engaged several hundred people in each of her classes and school clubs about her native country of Pakistan with a well-organized presentation, and even sang the Pakistani national anthem and made the traditional dish of rice pudding.

Dong Yoon Kim from Korea submitted a thoughtful application where he discussed the four presentations he made about his country’s food, school and general culture, and pop music. He wore traditional Korean clothes to his school, and with his easy-to-understand presentation style and obvious pride in his country, kept those who attended his presentation asking questions.