York students were big winners at Japanese Speech Contest

Of the 10 York University students who competed at the 26th Annual Ontario Japanese Speech Contest held at the University of Toronto on March 8, every one of them won a prize – a first for York – with two students heading to the national competition later this month.

Contestants gathered from various institutions across Ontario, including the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and McMaster University. From York, three students competed in the beginners’ category, three in intermediate, two in advanced and two in the open category.

Right: Sujae Amy Lee

Out of the 12 contestants in the beginners’ category, York’s JP1000 (Elementary Modern Standard Japanese) students brought home all three top prizes with first place going to Sujae Amy Lee for her speech, titled "Why Am I So Pretty?", second place went to Michael Oetlinger for "More than Two Dimensional", while Inx Neeve Sehatzadeh snagged a third-place finish for "Distance in Sitting".

In the intermediate category, York’s JP2000 (Intermediate Modern Standard Japanese) students beat out 12 other contestants to finish in first and second place. Hyun Ji Kim won first place for her speech "About Today’s Music" and Cherie Chan took second place with "Wrapping From the Heart".

As first-place winners in their categories, Kim and Lee have been invited to compete at the 2008 National Japanese Speech Contest at the University of Alberta on March 29.

Right: Hyun Ji Kim

Out of the eight advanced-level contestants, second place went to Moshe Lakser, taking HUMA4430 (Living Confucianism) at York, for "Women’s Pro Wrestling", while third place went to York’s Yin Yee (Maggie) Chan of JP3000 (Advanced Modern Standard Japanese).

York’s JP3000 students Shingo Kumagawa and Jasmine Lee won second and third place in the open category for their speeches, "How to Become Happily Rich" and "What’s in a Lunch?".

This year’s new prize, the Original Viewpoints Prize, went to York’s JP2000 student Robbie Lennon for "Japanese Studying Syndrome".

The chief judge of the competition said the contest promotes not only language learning, but a deeper cross-cultural understanding between countries, noting that this year’s audience had been treated to some very interesting and diverse commentaries.

Left: The Consul General of Japan Koichi Kawakami (front centre) and Noriko Yabuki-Soh, Chair of the organizing committee, with the 2008 prize winners, including the 10 from York.

Contestants were evaluated on the quality of their Japanese language delivery as well as the content of their message. By the end of the day, 21 prizes were awarded.

For more information, visit the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest Web site.