April 3, 2020
Alberta Japanese Speech Contest 2020
University of Calgary represented by twelve skilled students
The annual Alberta District Japanese Speech Contest was held on Sunday, March 8th, 2020 at the University of Alberta’s Prince Takamado Japan Centre, marking the 29th offering of the regional Japanese Speech competition. Despite initial concerns of cancellation and increasing fears of the impending pandemic of COVID-19 in Canada, the contest was a success.
This year’s contest included speeches from 18 students from the Alberta region, including 12 students representing the University of Calgary’s Japanese Program from the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures, and Cultures.
Each year, speeches are crafted with care from the harmonious combination of each student’s original ideas and their teacher’s meticulous support, and are a showcase of the students' abilities, as well as their willingness to push themselves to obtain a deeper understanding of the Japanese language. It was clear throughout the competition that each contestant had spent a great deal of time perfecting their speeches and developing their Japanese language skills.
Congratulations to all the participants in this year’s Japanese Speech Contest! The contest is made possible every year because of the hard work and care of the organizing committee, Japanese language instructors, Japanese volunteers, and students from Senshu University, Japan.
We are proud to report that students from the University of Calgary won the top three placings in each of the contest's four categories: Beginner’s, Intermediate, Advanced and Open.
In the Beginner’s category, out of a total of 7 contestants, three contestants from the University of Calgary presented their speeches. Anna Ni presented her speech, “Lifestyle Hamburger”, a cheerful metaphoric story about spending habits and happiness, and how they are connected. Xingyue He presented her touching speech, “My Family” detailing the struggles of international students studying far away from home. Tim Shamirzayev’s speech, “Takoyaki is Number One!”, a story about experiencing the interesting flavors of a culture through its cuisine, was awarded the second prize in this category.
The Intermediate category, which had a total of 10 contestants, was a very close competition. Each speech was presented very well, and the ideas expressed were equally thought provoking and personal. In this category, Fang Gao presented her speech, “The Bonds Between Nihonto and Its Female Fans”, describing the interesting relationship between ancient Japanese swords and modern-era fangirls. Leianne Gingco presented the speech, “My Dream Came True”, about her exciting experience of realizing her dream of going to Japan. Olivia Hiebert presented, “Grandmother's Happiness”, a personal story bringing the issue of an aging population close to heart. Chloe Ligier and her speech, “Banana Art”, which detailed the interesting event of a million dollar artwork of a banana being taped to a wall, were awarded second prize in the Intermediate category. Cindy Xia’s speech, “Our Fish”, a story about a childhood pet, was awarded first prize. Cindy would go on to represent the University of Calgary at the National Speech Contest in later March.
In the Advanced Category, out of the total of 9 contestants, three students from the University of Calgary presented their speeches. Hanum Lee presented his speech, “Tradition and Innovation”, about how innovation can come with a loss of tradition, and how Japan deals with both. Lucia Nguyen presented, “Don’t Fear Death”, an inspiring story of the importance of living to the fullest. Man Him Koo was awarded third prize for his speech, “Hardwork vs Talent”, an interesting second look at Einstein’s quote: “Genius is 1% talent and 99% hardwork”.
In the Open Category, Claire Sharp presented her speech, “The Sands of Time”, an eye-opening statement about materialism and how it will shape our futures. She was awarded first prize in her category and was also invited to represent Alberta in the National Speech Contest.
Thank you to Dr. Aya Fujiwara, Chair, Director of Prince Takamado Japan Centre for Teaching and Research; Dr. Hiromi Aoki, Japanese Language Coordinator, the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Alberta; Ms. Akiko Sharp, Japanese Language Advisor, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures, University of Calgary; and Ms. Rei Kondo, Program Assistant, Prince Takamado Japan Centre for Teaching and Research. Their work this year was extremely difficult and we are grateful they were able to keep the contest running safely and responsibly.
Great thanks to all of SLLLC's Japanese Language Instructors: Ms. Akiko Sharp, Ms. Hinako Ishikawa, Ms. Hitomi Krebes, and Ms.Hitomi Nishikawa.
Thank you also to the University of Calgary volunteers for filming and supporting the participants this year, your assistance is an important part of the contest each year.
Congratulations again to all the participants for their achievements and development of a greater understanding of Japanese language and culture, with much appreciation for the instructors. You have all come so far!
Stay tuned to hear about Cindy Xia and Claire Sharp's performances in the National Speech Contest, and see below for links to the Alberta District Japanese Speech Contest YouTube channel, with additional links for each of the winning videos.
Winning Speeches: University of Calgary
Beginners Category: Second place winner - Tim Shamirzayev - ”Takotaki is Nomber One!”
Advanced Category: Third place winner - Man Him Koo “Hardwork vs Talent” 「努力と才能」
Open Category: First place winner - Claire Sharp “The Sand of Time” 「時の流れ」