The 44th Annual Japanese Speech Contest
On Sunday, November 5, 2017, the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, the Northern California Japanese Teachers’ Association (NCJTA), and the Japanese American Association of Northern California (JAANC: Hokka Nichibei Kai) held the 44th Annual Japanese Speech Contest at the New People Cinema located in the heart of San Francisco’s historic Japantown.
The primary objective of this contest is to encourage the learning and use of the Japanese language in the San Francisco Bay Area community, particularly among non-native speakers of Japanese. Consisting of (1) the Middle and High School Student Division and (2) the College Student and Adult Division, the speech contest represents a fun and challenging way for students at all levels to demonstrate their language and communications skills.
A total of 33 contestants –– 19 in the Middle and High School Student Division and 14 in the College Student and Adult Division –– participated in the speech contest and demonstrated their advanced Japanese speaking skills in various topics –– ranging from personal experiences and learning Japanese to the cultural differences between the United States and Japan –– before a panel of judges and an encouraging audience of friends, families, teachers, and fellow students. The contestants shared their stories in their own words, and we learned about their experiences with Japan and the Japanese language, and found out what motivated them.
The Middle and High School Student Division contest was further divided into two groups, Category 1 for Japanese not spoken at home, and Category 2 for Japanese spoken at home. The Category 1 winner was Ms. Jumi Yoon (Mission San Jose High School: “The Meaning of Dieting”), the first runner-up was Ms. Nishchala Beeram (Monta Vista High School: “Why I’m Learning Japanese Now”), and the second runner-up was Ms. Eileen Ha (Palo Alto High School: “The Warmth of Family”). The Category 2 winner was Mr. Sota Hayashi (Sakura Gakuen: “My Passion for Nike”), the first runner-up was Ms. Lisa Yokemura (San Mateo Nippon Gakuyen: “Human Weakness”), and the second runner-up was Mr. Kai David Steiner (San Mateo Nippon Gakuyen: “My Father and Cat”). The winners from each category of the Middle and High School Division received a special prize from CAPCOM USA, Inc, one of the contest sponsors.
The winner of the College Student and Adult Division was Ms. Tangut Degfay (Middlebury Institute of International Studies: “Japan Through the Eyes and the Heart”), the first runner-up was Mr. Roger Luo (University of California, Berkeley: “What Japan Has Given Me”), and the second runner-up was Ms. Ellen Zhong (Middlebury Institute of International Studies: “Why I Could Not Say ‘I like Japan’”). The first-place winner for the College and Adult Division of this year’s contest received a round trip flight ticket to Japan from United Airlines, another contest sponsor.