York student wins grand prize at Japanese speech contest

York University students took seven prizes, including the grand prize, at the 27th annual Ontario Japanese Speech Contest March 14 at the University of Toronto, for a total of one-third of the awards.

Ji-Young Kim (right), a JP3000 (Advanced Modern Standard Japanese) student at York, competed in the Advanced Category to win the grand prize Mitsui Canada Award for the best speech across all categories. For her winning speech “My Experience as a Guide to a Japanese CEO”, Kim was awarded a return ticket to Japan along with a scholarship. She was also invited to compete at the 20th National Japanese Language Speech Contest at the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa, March 29.

Sorina Dragusanu, a York JP2000 (Intermediate Modern Standard Japanese) student, took second for her speech “Comfort Food”, in the advanced category against nine other contestants.

“A continuous study is essential to improve proficiency in a language study. In this regard, this year’s competition was tough for York students because of the suspension of classes. Even during the strike, the students worked on their speeches. The results are indeed the fruit of the students’ effort and hard work,” says York Professor Kiyoko Toratani of the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics.

There were 39 contestants – eight from York – from seven universities and one language school across Ontario competing in the speech contest. The participants competed in four categories – beginner, intermediate, advanced and open – and delivered a three to four minute speech. A panel of five judges evaluated the speeches on content, organization, presentation, pronunciation and grammar. 

In the beginner’s category, which had 14 contestants, prizes went to two of York’s JP1000 (Elementary Modern Standard Japanese) students – the Special Effort Prize went to Trevor Brown for his speech “Do You Like Math?”, and the Cross-Cultural Relations Prize went to Ekaterina Seredukhina for her speech, titled “My Image of Beauty”.

Above: Grand prize winner Ji-Young Kim (second from right front), chair of the organizing committee Ikuko Komuro-Lee (third from right front), Jack Han (second from right back), Kanae Naosaki (third from right back), Ekaterina Seredukhina (eighth from right back), Sorina Dragusanu (second from left back), Michael Tracey-Dapello (fifth from left back) and Trevor Brown (seventh from left back).

Out of the 12 contestants in the intermediate category, York JP2000 student Jack Han won third place for his speech "Let’s Convey by Words", and Michael Tracey-Dapello (JP2000) received the Yokoso! Japan Prize for his speech “When I Look Up, I See You.”

In the open category, York’s Kanae Naosaki also won the Yokoso! Japan Prize for her speech “A Treasured Year”.

For information about the Japanese language courses offered at York, visit the Japanese Section Web site of the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics in York’s Faculty of Arts. For more information about the contest, visit the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest Web site.