Two Linfield students were rewarded for their initiative last week when they placed second in their divisions in the 12th-annual Toyama Cup Speech Contest.
Freshman Michael Colby and junior Amy Shoemaker traveled to Portland on April 28 to compete against other Japanese-speaking students from other Oregon colleges and universities in the contest, sponsored by the Toyoma Prefectural Government and the Japan-America Society of Oregon.
The Toyoma prefecture and the state of Oregon have acted as sister states for 19 years. The contest is another manifestation of that partnership, Associate Professor of Japanese Chris Keaveney, said.
Colby took second place among students who have studied Japanese for one year or less at the college level.
Shoemaker, who placed second among contestants who have studied Japanese for two years, spoke about her visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum in Hiroshima, Japan, while studying abroad. Her speech focused on how the visit reaffirmed her opposition to war.
Contestants were judged on the fluency and content of their speeches by a panel that included Japanese educators, businessmen and diplomats from the Portland area.
Colby said he had less than a month to prepare his speech, which dealt with his experiences in the classroom and the dynamics surrounding his learning experience.
Aside from practicing in front of a mirror, he said working with Keaveney, as well as Assistant Professor of Japanese Mafumi Omura, was the biggest help when preparing for the contest.
Keaveney said feedback was provided on grammatical errors, but the student’s voice within the speech was entirely his or her own.
“We asked students to provide us with a draft so we could provide them feedback on quality and smooth it out without changing the language of the speech,” he said.
Keaveney said he was impressed with Colby and Shoemaker’s performances this year.
Colby said since beginning to prepare his speech, he has gained more of a tendency to think in Japanese instead of English in class. He said speaking in a formal environment allowed him to gain further insight in his classroom experience.