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2019 Confucius Institute Award Winners

Western New York Students Recognized for Success in Chinese Language Learning
UB Confucius Institute Presents Awards at Chinese New Year Celebration

2019 award winners are recognized at the opening ceremony of the Chinese New Year gala on February 9

Buffalo, N.Y. – At the Chinese New Year Celebration at the University at Buffalo on February 9, the UB Confucius Institute recognized top students in Chinese language programs from middle and high schools throughout Erie and Niagara Counties.

Thirteen students received the Confucius Institute’s annual Award for Excellence in Chinese Language Learning. These students were selected based on their consistently high level of proficiency in Chinese and enthusiasm for learning about Chinese culture. Seven awardees study at schools with Confucius Institute guest teachers from China and six attend schools with local Chinese language teachers.

The winners of the 2019 Awards for Excellence in Chinese Language Learning are:

Jack Dudek St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute
Ava Farkash Elmwood Franklin School
Ava Floss St. Benedict School
Vivian Hunt Nichols School
Jeffrey Mueller Canisius High School
Hailey Muscarella Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart
Angelina Olivera Lewiston Porter Middle School
Nicole Peunic Lewiston Porter High School
Julia Penchaszadeh Robert City Honors School
Gabriella Reynolds East Aurora High School
Clare Ring Nichols School
Eliot Solomon City Honors School
Mara Tysick Nardin Academy


Each student received a $100 gift card to Barnes and Noble Bookstore.

The Confucius Institute also gave awards to nine students for their presentations in the second annual Chinese Bridge Speech competition, organized by the Confucius Institute on February 2 at UB. In this competition, students recited a three-minute speech in Chinese and answered questions from a panel of judges. The format is modeled after national and international Chinese Bridge competitions.

The winners of the 2019 Chinese Bridge Speech Competition are:

Beginner level
First Place Brigid O’Rourke City Honors School
Second Place Avery White City Honors School
Third Place Nicole Peunic Lewiston Porter High School
Third Place Cho Cho Aye Nichols School


Intermediate Level
First Place Jack Dudek St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute
Second Place Mya Aye Nichols School
Third Place Liam Gavin Dell City Honors School
Third Place Grant Smith St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute


Advanced Level
First Place Vivian Hunt Nichols School


Both groups of students received their awards at a ceremony at the Confucius Institute before the Chinese New Year Celebration, then participated in the opening ceremonies of the performance gala in the Mainstage Theatre in UB’s Center for the Arts. The students introduced themselves in Chinese and wished the large audience happiness and good fortune in the New Year.

Following the opening ceremonies, the winners and their families joined the audience of about 1,200 people for a program of traditional and contemporary performances to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Pig. The show illustrated the dynamism of Chinese culture through music, dance, and martial arts. Performers included students from schools affiliated with the Confucius Institute, members of the Chinese Club of Western New York, and students from Gold Summit Martial Arts Institute.

The UB Confucius Institute supports Chinese language teaching at UB and in local K-12 schools, China-related research, teaching and artistic production at UB, and community cultural events that foster a better understanding of Chinese traditions and contemporary culture. Among its programs, the Institute places language teachers from China in schools throughout Erie and Niagara Counties. Currently, the Confucius Institute sponsors ten guest teachers in K-12 schools and two visiting professors at UB.

For more information about the Confucius Institute, email, visit, or call 716-645-9090.