EDISON, NJ -- Stan DeLaurentiis of Plainfield, a senior at The Wardlaw + Hartridge School in Edison, certainly represented his school and country well at the Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition. The event, held in Kunming City of southwest China's Yunnan Province, featured 110 teams of two students from 99 countries and five continents. Stan and his partner, Maxwell Horne of Riverdale Country Day School (NY), placed in the top 20 of this elite international competition.

“It was a rewarding experience,” DeLaurentiis said. “The recognition of getting top 20 out of 110 teams was amazing. I really feel that our teamwork and collaborative efforts were unparalleled. He’s very technical and traditional and his grammar is on point. I’m more emphatic and emotional and I brought those aspects to the competition. Our enthusiasm and love for the language and the culture really pushed us through the competition.”

The competition included a written test covering elements including culture, grammar, history and geography; a speech component with one-minute orations from each team member and a combined speech; and a cultural performance, during which DeLaurentiis played the saxophone and joined his partner for a 30-second rap. The top 20 teams moved on to the fourth stage, a game show that decided the final five teams.

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DeLaurentiis was accompanied by W+H Upper School Mandarin instructor Hua Liu of Edison, who served as the team leader. Liu worked with DeLaurentiis and his partner, who sacrificed sleep, shortened meals and gave up free time to put in extra work and preparation for the various stages of the competition.

“I’m so proud of Stan,” Liu said. “He’s so mature, stable and calm. He collaborated well with his partner and was very helpful and patient. He’s also very confident and a good team player. His behavior reflected the W+H core values, especially integrity.”

DeLaurentiis and Liu also enjoyed many experiences away from the competition, including visits to well-known landmarks such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City. They enjoyed a trip to the Stone Forest, a national park of towering stone structures. They also visited and engaged in cultural activities with ethnic minority groups.

“I experienced the more real China this time,” said DeLaurentiis, who felt less like a tourist on his second trip to China. “I definitely understand more about how Chinese bureaucracy works. I learned about how genuine people are and how they are willing to make meaningful connections. It really broadened my view.” 

DeLaurentiis looks forward to returning to China many times in the future, possibly during his upcoming college years. He was awarded a free semester of study at any Chinese institution, including airfare, and plans to study abroad.

The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison is Central Jersey’s premier Pre K-12 independent school. The campus is located at 1295 Inman Avenue in North Edison, near the Scotch Plains border and just five miles from downtown Westfield.