6 tackle Japanese Speech Contest
TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR old University of West Indies (UWI) alumni Brian Stewart bested a tough field of six entrants to win the grand prize of the inaugural Japanese Speech Contest held on May 17 at the Nippon Room, Faculty of Humanities an Education, UWI, Mona.
"I'm very happy to have won, and I'm very thankful to my teacher Tazuko Iijima-Kelly," Stewart told the Jamaica Observer.
Stewart, who has been studying Japanese since 2007, won a 15-day trip to Osaka, Japan, this summer, after a brilliant delivery of his speech on the theme 'Why do I study Japanese'. His speech focused on his history with the language and his hope that good things will happen based on this love of Japan.
"I want to see the sights, further my knowledge of Japanese culture and make friends," he said.
In what was later indicated to be a tight race, Stewart arrived as a top contender as he was the only contestant who delivered his speech without the cue cards or notes.
Being held in Jamaica for the first time, the contest was put on in a joint effort between the Embassy of Japan and Japan Foundation and is part of a larger worldwide Japanese Language Programme for Overseas Students effort.
"I hope this will become an annual event, and I wish to see more participation in the years coming," Yasuo Takase, Japanese ambassador to Jamaica said.
According to Takase, the short notice in which the contest was arranged as part of the Golden Jubilee Japan/Jamaica celebrations meant there were only 12 applicants. Along with Stewart, and 1st runner-up Kneil Thomas, Kwesi Campbell, Donavan Sankey, Oniel McNeil, and the lone female Robyn Guthrie made up the six shortlisted entrants.
They all had to deliver their speeches in Japanese, then field questions, also in Japanese, before leaving the podium. Chief Judge Hiromoto Oyama indicated that contestants were graded on content, pronunciation, vocabulary, the appeal of the speech, effort, and gained extra points for their answers in the Q&A.
"The judges were all impressed by the quality of the speeches. The accents were spot on. The contestants were entertaining, and their interaction with the judges was excellent," Oyama said.
Present at the competiton was Elaine Foster-Allen, permanent secretary in the ministry of education. "This event has broken the stereotype about males not liking language or wanting to read," she added as she beamed at the fact that only one of the six entrants was female.