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Students take top honors in Japanese speech contest

April 28, 2014

  • Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest winners Lauren McDonald, third year law student, Amanda Cosby ’17, and Marina Smith ’17.
  • Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest top winners in each division.
  • Marina Smith ’17, Instructor in Japanese Atsuko Kurogi, Amanda Cosby ’17, and third year law student Lauren McDonald.

Lewis & Clark students recently took top honors at the 2014 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest, with third-year law student Lauren McDonald receiving the grand prize—an all-expense paid trip to Japan.

The Japanese speech contest—which brings together students from Oregon, southwest Washington, and Idaho—is sponsored by Toyama prefecture and held every year in Oregon, Toyama’s sister state. Prizes are awarded for first through third place with the overall winner receiving a “Toyama Observation Trip,” an opportunity to visit Toyama prefecture, interact with the people of Toyama, and visit sightseeing areas.  The goal of the contest is to strengthen the relationship between Toyama and Oregon by promoting Japanese language education in northwest universities. 

In the level one competition (less than two years of formal study), student Amanda Cosby ’17 took first place and Marina Smith ’17 took second place. Both are students in Atsuko Kurogi’s second-year Japanese class. Law student Lauren McDonald took first place in the level two competition, requiring more than two years of formal study.

Contestants are free to select their own speech topics, which may include the importance of sister-state relationships or the speaker’s Japan-related experiences. Following each speech, a judge asks the contestant two follow-up questions in Japanese. Contest judges represent the Japanese business, cultural, and academic communities. The panel considers Japanese language ability, speech content, presentation, response to questions and answers, and speech timing.

“This year’s contest was extremely competitive, with organizers noting that participants were the largest, strongest group in recent memory,” said Bruce Suttmeier, associate professor of Japanese. “To win the grand prize is a wonderful honor for Lauren and a testament to her hard work and dedication. Thanks should also go to Instructor in Japanese Atsuko Kurogi and Japanese language assistant Tae Fujioka, who worked tirelessly with these students the past few weeks, refining and practicing their speeches. These awards are a product of countless hours of effort and attest to the great work our students are doing in and out of the classroom.”

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