12 March 2021
The Sixteenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students was held online this year on Saturday 6th of March 2021.
Maya Jones, a 4th year student of Japanese at SOAS, won First Prize in the Speech Category of the contest for her speech titled: Imperfection is beautiful – How wabi-sabi can erase mental health stigma.
In reaction to winning, Maya said:
“Participating in the speech contest was something I'd aspired to ever since I started studying Japanese at SOAS. I remember watching videos of past contestants in class during first year and being blown away by their ability - I never thought I'd make it this far with my Japanese, but I owe it all to the wonderful teachers at SOAS. I don't think I could have made the progress I have anywhere else. The preparation was definitely tough, it wasn't easy balancing the speech contest with all the other work during my final year, but it was absolutely worth it and an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. To students who are hoping to compete in the future, my advice would be not to enter with the goal of winning, but to focus on spreading a message you really care about. The topic of mental health, and eliminating the stigma which surrounds it is something which has always been so important to me, and I was so happy just to be given a platform and to have the opportunity to spread that message. I honestly didn't think that I would win, and it was a huge shock to hear my name be read out as the winner, but it was without a doubt my proudest and most emotional moment at university so far.”
Rosi Byard-Jones, a 4th year student of Japanese SOAS, was a runner-up in the in the Speech Category of the contest for her speech titled: The Japanese that Only Children Can Teach You.
Keira Santi, a 1st year student of Japanese at SOAS, was also a runner-up in the Individual Presentation Category for her speech titled: Leonardo Da Vinci.
The annual Japanese Speech Contest for University Students is organised by the British Association for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language (BATJ) and The Japan Foundation, London. The contest is also generously sponsored and supported by prominent UK-based Japanese companies and organisations in the field of Japan-UK relations.
The event provides an opportunity for students from the UK and Ireland to demonstrate their Japanese speaking and presentation skills. This year, the event was held online due to the pandemic, but over 130 people attended on the final day.