University students win awards in Japanese Speech Contest

Adithi Iyengar, Contributing Reporter

Third year student Adam Church was not too confident in his Japanese.

Although he is comfortable with his public speaking skills, he’s still learning the language. After quite a lot of encouragement by his professors, Church decided to enter the Japan-America Society of Central Ohio (JASCO)’s Japanese Speech Contest held earlier this month.

The move paid off with him earning the third place award for his speech titled “The Importance of Studying Abroad in Modern Times.”

The contest, held in Dublin City Hall in Dublin, OH, has been sponsored since 1999. High school and university students who study Japanese are eligible to compete. According to their mission statement, JASCO is a non-profit membership association that desires to bring the Japanese American communities together and share knowledge about Japan as well as Japan-U.S. relations. It is one of 36 Japan-America Societies that exist throughout the nation, and part of the National association Japan-America Societies.

Case Western Reserve University did quite well in the competition. First place was awarded to Peng Sun for her speech called, “The Tenderness of Japanese.” Third place was Adam Church. Another student, Vivian Chen, was awarded the Judges Special Prize by the Consul-General of Japan in Detroit for her speech, “A Lesson from Kendo.” Altogether, these students took one-third of the prizes. Accompanying and assisting the students were lecturers Aiko Ishii, Yoshiko Kishi and Peggy Fitzgerald, as well as Professor Takao Hagiwara.

Church found the experience to be quite rewarding. He says that he didn’t go into the competition thinking he’d win and had no idea that he would even make it into the finals, let alone place. Church went in for the sake of experiencing something new and challenging himself.

“I learned a lot throughout my process, and being a finalist and placing helped increase my confidence in my Japanese ability significantly,” Church said.

Church first began working on his speech over winter break. Throughout the spring semester, he polished his draft and refined his speech with the help of various professors from the Japanese department. Once the revision was complete, he recorded himself speaking and submitted it as part of his application. After he heard back that he had been selected as one of 10 university finalists, Church practiced more with the Japanese faculty to rehearse his speech.