York students dominate Japanese Speech competitions

Students in the Japanese Studies Program of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics in York’s Faculty of Arts dominated this year’s Ontario Japanese Speech Contest and National Japanese Speech Contest.

Prizes were awarded to seven of the 10 York students who participated in the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest held at the University of Toronto on March 12. Not only did Faculty of Arts student Elena Pak (third-year, economics) take home the Mitsui Canada Grand Prize, two other York students, Schulich’s Robert Dracea (second-year, international business administration) and Atkinson’s Sheo-wei (Cindy) Zhang (third- year, administrative studies), also took the top prizes in their categories.

Right: Family member, friends and participants in the National Japanese Speech Contest pose with York Japanese Studies Program coordinator Norio Ota (centre). Photo by Yuri Anzai

The three students then went on to participate in the National Japanese Speech Contest held at York on April 3. The national contest featured a showdown between winners of the regional contests held across Canada. Judges had to evaluate speeches such as, “If I was a sushi, which one would I be?” and “The dog that tamed me”, according to their originality, logic, fluency and pronunciation.

The York students again received top honours. Dracea took the first prize in the beginner’s category with his speech “Non-English-speaking orphan of Asia?”, Zhang dominated the Open category with her speech “Japanese women and Chinese women” and Pak earned the MacKinnon Travel Grand Prize of a return ticket to Japan for her speech “Where do Ainu people come from?”

Norio Ota, coordinator of  York’s Japanese Studies Program, chaired the organizing committees for both contests. Ota expressed great pride in his students’ achievements. “I believe that the excellent performance exhibited by York students both in the regional and national Japanese speech contests promotes not only the Japanese Studies Program, but also York University as a whole.” 

This story was submitted to YFile by Arlene Williams, researcher and writer, Faculty of Arts.