York student Laina Tsurusaki has won first prize in the Open category at the 26th National Japanese Speech Contest at the University of Calgary on Saturday, March 28.
Contestants were the first-prize winners of provincial Japanese speech contests who travelled from all over the country to gather in Calgary. This year, 26 contestants in four levels of proficiency competed at the national contest.
Tsurusaki was one of the five contestants in the Open category in which learners of Japanese as a heritage language or with a long language learning background competed. In her speech, titled “Every year, on January 17th,” she talked about how her birthday coincides with the day when the earthquakes hit the Kobe area in Japan back in 1995 and how she was awaken by the notion of volunteering when Japan was hit by the more recent quakes and Tsumani in March, 2011.
“Throughout this contest, I was extremely excited to meet many inspiring contestants who were also interested in the Japanese language and culture – I truly believe that this priceless experience has broadened my perspective on learning another language,” said Tsurusaki, a psychology student at York.
She is also studying Japanese in the AP/JP3000 Advanced Modern Standard Japanese course. York students in the Japanese Studies Program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies have won many top prizes at both the provincial and national speech contests in the past.