Senior Leah Sedy stood before the judges and crowd, hoping that no one noticed her knees knocking together, her nerves on high. However, she completed her speech, which was spoken in full Japanese, landing her in third place at The Toyama Cup Speech Contest.
The Toyama Cup Speech Contest is an annual Japanese speech contest co-sponsored by the Toyama Prefectural Government of Japan and the Japan-America Society of Oregon. It is for college students who are studying Japanese in Oregon, with the purpose being to foster a friendship between Oregon and the sister-state, Toyama Prefecture in Japan.
For the past three years, Linfield students have won awards in the language speech contest. This year, all three of the senior Japanese majors who attended the contest April 15 at The World Trade Center in Portland returned with an award. Sedy took third place, senior Ariel Lillico took second place and senior Lucian Battaglia received the award of encouragement.
The three students were the only ones in their senior seminar who decided to make the speech contest a part of the class. They spent several weeks writing, practicing and preparing their speeches in class.
Even with the practice, the girls each said that they were nervous to present their six-minute speeches in Japanese.
“Public speaking is not one of my strong points, so if it hadn’t been a part of our class, I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Lillico said. “I was very nervous, but in the end, it was a very positive experience. I don’t think I’ll have another opportunity to do something like this and it was a good way for me to build confidence in my speaking skills.”
Battaglia agreed that the nerves were hard to beat, but the experience was well worth it in the end.
“It was a little nerve wracking, trying to memorize a six-minute speech in Japanese when my other classes and track were draining my review time allotment,” she said. “I did, in fact, enjoy the experience greatly. After I got the jitters out of me I was able to speak with poise and confidence. Many people liked my speech, and I was happy about the responses I received from the listeners.”
It was Sedy’s second year participating in the contest, and she was glad she got the opportunity to experience it again.
“[It is] a good way to challenge myself linguistically in crafting and memorizing a speech in Japanese, and it’s always fun meeting other students in the area with shared interest in the Japanese language,” she said.
Sedy said she was grateful to have the experience to represent Linfield at The Toyama Cup Speech Contest.
“Linfield students have always done well in this contest,” she said. “And it was a nice feeling to stand with my classmates Ariel and Lucian in representing the excellent Japanese program at Linfield.”
Andra Kovacs/Senior reporter