March 22, 2022

31st Alberta District Japanese Speech Contest

On March 5, 2022, the 31st Alberta District Speech Contest was hosted by the University of Calgary and University of Alberta.
31st Alberta District Japanese Speech Contest

On Saturday, March 5th, 2022, the 31st Alberta District Japanese Speech Contest was held over Zoom. A total of 15 contestants, all demonstrated their exceptional Japanese language skills through a variety of speeches. Each contestant chose their own topic of which they felt passionate about. The contest had four categories including Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Open, all showcasing different levels of Japanese skills. There were five contestants that attended this contest from the University of Calgary.

All the contestants from our school showed their best, and gave impressive and moving speeches. In the Beginner category, Ghadeer Mahdi won first place, and Kawthar Mahdi won second place. In the Advanced category, Alex Chan won second place. In the Open category, Luna McDonald won first place. 

Kawthar Mahdi gave a speech titled ‘Lost in Walmart’ (Beginner category), retelling a true story from her childhood when her mother forgot her at a Walmart. She borrowed a phone at the customer service, but completely forgot her mother’s phone number, and had no choice but to wait there until her mother realized that she wasn’t in the car. She was quite calm through it all, until she saw her older sister came in: that was when she started sobbing. It was scary at the time, but now it's just a funny memory.

Ghadeer Mahdi’s speech was titled ‘Enjoying Sports’ (Beginner category). The script begins with a childhood memory that stuck with Ghadeer to this day, regarding how she was told that she could not play soccer because she was a girl. The speech unpacks that despite those struggles, her love for sport continued to grow and she eventually joined her school's team sports. Her future goal is to help others become healthier through exercise with the belief that anyone and everyone can enjoy sports! 

Ryan Zheng’s speech, 'Encounter with Japan' (Beginner category), told the audience the story of how he got in touch with Japan. He watched the TV series ‘Ultraman’ as a child and finding out that it was a Japanese series that inspired him to learn Japanese as a third language. He tells how this Japanese TV series has affected his life since childhood, and that to this day he is still in love with the anime ‘Ultraman’.

Alex Chan’s speech, titled ‘Poverty Trap’ (Advanced category) explains how poverty resembles a trap where once a person falls too deep into the poverty trap, they can never escape on their own. Thus, a 'Big Push' is needed to push them out of the trap all at once, help sustain their lives, and enable them to stay afloat on their own. Although, this also means that a big initial payment is required because small separate payments will not work. That is, the upfront cost required to establish social infrastructures to promote human capital of the poor is enormous.

Luna McDonald’s speech, “My Language and Personality” (Open category) brings to light an interesting perspective on being bilingual. She explains how growing up speaking both Japanese and English, she started to develop two different personalities depending on the language she was speaking. She highlights cultural differences between the two countries and how those are the key influence on the development of the two personalities.

On behalf of the School and the Japanese program, we thank the sponsors and key supporters of this event, the Consulate-General of Japan in Calgary, the Mitsui Canada Foundation, the Japan Foundation Toronto, the Prince Takamado Japan Centre for Teaching and Research, the Canadian Association for Japanese Language Education, and the Alberta Japanese Business Association. We would also like to extend a special thanks to the five judges of the contest.  

A special thank you to the Japanese instructors at the University of Calgary, Akiko Sharp, Yoko Kodama, Hinako Ishikawa, Masako Shimada, Hitomi Krebes, and Hitomi Nishikawa who shared their support and wisdom with the participants. Their expertise and constant encouragement helped students perform their best at the Speech contest.

Congratulations to all participants in this year’s Alberta District Speech Contest. Your hard work and dedication are something to admire. And best of luck to Ghadeer Mahdi and Luna McDonald as they move on to the National Speech Contest on March 26, 2022.