Strong showing from York at the Ontario Japanese Speech Contest


Sakeina Syed | Contributor

Featured Image: Students have the opportunity to compete in various categories, and potentially advance to nationals. | Courtesy of yFile

Nine students represented York at the 38th annual Ontario Japanese Speech Contest (OJSC), which took place on February 29. Of these competitors, five York students were awarded prizes.

Since 1983, students studying Japanese at Ontario universities have been given the opportunity to compete in four divisions: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Open. The competition is renowned across the province, and is sponsored by the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto. First-prize winners are given the opportunity to advance to the national level, competing with students from across Canada.

Although the competition is held at the University of Toronto, York is an integral part of OJSC’s organizing committee. York professors Noriko Yabuki-Soh and Kumiko Inutsuka held positions on the committee this year.

Mohona Meeftahul, a first-year student at the Schulich School of Business, competed in the Beginner category of the competition.

“My program requires me to learn a language during my four years of undergrad. My teacher introduced me to the speech contest in November, and encouraged me to submit an application,” says Meeftahul. “Japanese is actually my fourth language.”

Meeftahul came in third place for her speech about the influence of beauty standards in Asia on children entitled, “The Ten Year Old Me in the Mirror.” In the same category, York student Lily Feng placed first and will move onto the national competition.

York was also represented in the Intermediate category, with Anson Wong coming in first place and Divine Domingo being awarded the special effort prize. In the Open category, Michael Tracey took home the Subaru Special Prize.

In total, three members of the York team will advance to represent the Japanese Studies program at the national level.

“I am extremely delighted by the outstanding achievements made by the York students,” stated Norio Ota, an associate professor of the Japanese Studies Program. “Their efforts were truly commendable.”

Students interested in participating in next year’s competition can visit the Japanese Studies department. York offers an Honours Minor degree in Japanese Studies, which is the gateway for students to compete at OJSC.

“I’m currently taking the JP1000 course as my elective,” continues Meeftahul. “After doing an interview with the Japanese language department, I was chosen to be a part of York’s team. The overall competition experience was great, and everyone’s speeches were amazing and inspiring.”

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