On Jan. 24th, the final round of the 28th English Recitation Contest for High School Freshmen sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Kobe, was held online. 11 high school freshmen advanced from the preliminary round and enthusiastically performed in this final round. The recitation theme for this year’s final round was the speech, “Find Your Own Donut” by Mr. Akio Toyoda, President and Member of the Board of Directors of Toyota Motor Corporation. Mr. Toyoda previously graduated from Babson College and gave this speech in celebration of its 100th anniversary. He encouraged the students to fly high into their future careers.
At the beginning, Mr. Richard Mei, Jr. , Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe, gave an Opening Address, and the contest started. The judges were Mr. Richard Mei, Jr.; Ms. Yuan Lei, a coordinator for International Relations of Hyogo Prefecture; Ms. Joy Sung, a member of the International Department, Office of the Mayor, Kobe City; Mr. Mitsunori Nonomura, President of the Junior Chamber International Kobe; and Ms. Aika Yasui, a member of the Japan-America Society of Kobe.
The students all performed wholeheartedly, and the competition was very intense. In order to prevent the infection of COVID-19, this year’s contest was held online but everyone could feel their enthusiasm through the screen.
Before the awards ceremony, a small event – Q&A time to Mr. Richard Mei – was held. Almost all students asked him questions in English to him. The students seemed relaxed since they were released from the tension of performing.
After the event, we had the awards ceremony. By strict judging, the prize-winners were decided as follows;
The 1st place (JASK CUP AWARD): Ms. Hitomi Toma, from Nishinomiya Municipal Nishinomiya High School
The 2nd place (AMERICAN CONSUL GENERAL’S AWARD): Ms. Saki Higashi, from Hibarigaoka Gakuen High School
The 3rd place (THE MOST EXCITING SPEAKER AWARD): Ms. Sayaka Hamada, from Kobe Municipal Fukiai High School
Feedback from the judges was given to each of them, and a cup was presented to the champion.
At the end of the ceremony, Mr. Kiran S. Sethi, one of the advisers of the Society and the president of JUPITER INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, gave a Closing Address and applauded all participants. After taking the online group picture, the contest ended.
■Opening Address by Mr. Richard Mei, Jr. , Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
I’d like to say to all of you participating today, Good luck! Regardless of the outcome, I know you all are going to do your best, and whatever is the result, whoever wins, whoever gets second place, so on, this will be an extremely valuable experience. When it is all over, I think you will be able to come away with some experience that will certainly help you in your future. Whether that means you will use English regularly in your studies, or in your future careers and beyond that, I do want to encourage you to make the best use of this opportunity. Use this experience to build your future, and hopefully you will be able to use English in your future careers to help your country to work on international relations, and from my own personal perspective, I hope that you’ll get involved in US-Japan relations to build a bridge between our two countries.
So I just want to say good luck, I wish you all well, and I hope someday we might be able to meet in person in the future.
Closing Address by Mr. Kiran S. Sethi, Adviser of the Japan-America Society of Kobe
Well done everyone and I hope that you had a wonderful afternoon!
First of all, to the students who had recitated today and the teachers and families who had supported them, you all really did a fabulous job. Although, it was important to compete here in today’s final round, I think the process and effort you all made to get here is equally, if not more important. The Japan-America Society of Kobe was founded over a 100 years ago and continues to work to strengthen the people to people relationship between Japan and America. This contest is the one of the activities that we have been holding for the 28th time. I am extremely pleased to see that every year the quality of the performances by the students are showing tremendous developments and extremely encouraged.
I would like to close by, again, saying “Well done” and “Congratulations” to those who recited today and to all those that participated in the first round also. I hope this recitation contest will be a catalyst that enhances your interest in English speaking that helps you bring great success in all future endeavors . Finally, I request you all to continue to support and promote to strengthen mutual understanding between the peoples of Japan and America. Thank you very much!