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From San Domenico to center stage: The inspirational journey of Emma Zhu on ‘CHUANG ASIA’


‘CHUANG ASIA,’ a reality talent show originally based in China, is hosting 70 female trainees from various countries in Thailand this year. The audience will vote to determine the final nine people who get to debut as part of an international idol group.

From a pool of over 9,000 aspirants, only 70 finalists were selected, and among them is San Domenico School alum Emma Zhu.

As an international student, Zhu made her journey from China to a boarding school in the United States all by herself at the age of 14. Over the past two years of living in the dorms, she formed deep connections with the people at SD, including Crystal Jimenez, a resident faculty member.

“Emma has a free spirit,” Jimenez said. “She is not afraid of showing her true self to others, and she doesn’t really care about what people think of her.”

Zhu did not only leave a lasting impression on the boarding program, but also significantly influenced the entire school with her outstanding dance performances.



At school, she was oftentimes known as “the dancing girl” by the students. You could see her dancing at school assemblies, dance ensembles, spirit rallies, or on the basketball court, cheering for our teams. Everywhere, all the time.

Zhu performing on San Domenico Dance Ensemble

“It’s because she picks up things so quickly,” Jamelle Namocatcat, who danced with Zhu for the past two years, said. “She could be gone for four months because of volleyball, and come back to the dance ensemble and learn everything in a week, which is why she was able to give so many excellent dance performances at so many events.”

This ability was not developed overnight, but rather, is the result of Zhu’s years of diligent effort and dedication.

“Emma began learning Chinese traditional dance at four years old and started pop dancing when she was 11,” Daisy Zhang, Zhu’s mom, said.

For a 17-year-old girl, dance has taken up much of her life. When most people complain about the pain of dancing, Zhu embraces it and uses it as a catalyst for growth. If one doesn’t truly love dancing, it would be hard for them to maintain such a passion for so long. Yet, with her genuine passion, Zhu has overcome all the challenges she faced since she was a kid learning how to dance, and stands proudly on the stage of ‘CHUANG ASIA’ today, undeterred by any challenges in the future.

“It was a difficult decision,” Zhang said. “She was eager to show people her dance talent, but was unable to let go of her academic commitments. So in the end, I told her to take a year off to participate in ‘CHUANG ASIA’ because it’s an incredible opportunity for her to pursue her dream.”

And so, one morning in December 2023, that little girl who had arrived in the US from China two years ago said goodbye to San Domenico and began a new chapter of her life in Thailand.

Zhu exceeded everyone’s expectations in the show, dancing in the front row of the theme song music video and ranking 15th in the first round, though she appears to be more stressed in the most recent episodes.

In a recent interview on the show, Zhu mentioned her desire to improve to prove herself as someone worthy of being liked by hundreds of thousands of fans. As the show gets published, Zhu’s enthusiasm is moving more and more people to vote for her, which might be one of the causes that is adding to the pressure she feels.

But no matter what, one thing that will never change about Zhu is her unwavering commitment of delivering quality dance performances to her audience.


*Vote for Emma Zhu on WeTV ( or search for WeTV on Google Play or App Store).

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About the Contributor
Alice Wang
Alice Wang, Copy Editor
Alice Wang is a senior at San Domenico and a contributor for The Panther Press. She is an international student from China and loves traveling.

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