Dating TV show inspires a version in Chicago

Updated: 2013-03-07 11:54

By Liu Yuhan in New York (China Daily)

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Inspired by China's most famous speed-dating show, "If You Are the One" (Fei Cheng Wu Rao), a group of Chinese college students in Chicago are gearing up to put on their third consecutive version of the program for singles.

Organized by the Chinese Student and Scholar Association at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the on-campus show tomorrow evening will feature five Chinese male contestants using skits to show their talents and personalities as they try to win the affection of five women from among 12 Chinese females.

"Chinese students studying overseas, including myself, have very limited access to a bigger social circle, and we hope such an event can help a little bit," said Feng Xu, president of the association.

Most of this year's 17 contestants are full-time students in Chicago, including at the university, the Art Institute of Chicago and DePaul University.

The association has spread the dating game show's popularity to more than Chicago, Xu said. "As the overall quality of the contestants goes up, we're gaining more recognition," he said.

The organization launched its speed-dating competition in 2011, one year after Jiangsu TV started its top-rated "If You Are the One". That show produced relationships among six couples and four couples formed relationships in 2012, Xu said.

The student association has been posting photographs of some of this year's female participants online, including on Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter, and, the Chinese version of Facebook.

"A simple nice picture of a female contestant, Yelin Zhou, has generated more than 1,000 views in a few days since we posted it," Xu said. "Other nice photos have also attracted quite some traffic."

As a non-profit volunteer organization, the association raises money to provide food and entertainment for the contestants and audiences, and charges $2 for each of the 150 people who attend a show.

"As it gets more successful and gains more ground, sponsors have made offers before we ask them," Xu said.

One finalist this year is Tingting He, 34, from Milwaukee, where she's an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin. She has been in the US for more than 10 years, including six at Washington University in St Louis to get her PhD. She said she's participating in the speed-dating show because she's been alone for too long.

"I've been single during the six years while I was pursuing my PhD, where there were only about two hundred to three hundred Chinese students," she said. " Now, after I came here to work, it seems fewer and fewer men are still available."

"I know that I should not pin all my hope on this speed dating event, but I think it at least makes life more colorful. Life is a journey, and I am looking for someone to travel together with me."