Jan 22, 2011

My First Japanese Speech Contest

When my vice-principal first approached me to participate in the local speech contest for foreigners, I was apprehensive. Speech contest? I have never participated in one before. Can I do it? Later, I got to know that the Myanmar exchange student who studies at my school is also taking part, so I decided to try my luck and signed up for my virgin speech contest.

Yeah. My first ever speech contest, is conducted in Japanese. The language I am worst at, out of the 3 that I know of. :P

In total 13 were shortlisted. 5 for the high school category and 8 for the open category. I was under the open category.

I had put in much effort in this speech contest. I have went through rounds of revisions with my colleagues. And the final revision is my 8th draft. My main problem was probably the length of time, or rather, the lack-of. 3 minutes was too short for my speech.

And the day came. My first surprise is seeing so many Chinese participants. There were 6 out of 13, 4 from China, 1 from Taiwan and 1 from Singapore (aka me). For the last 5+ months I was here, I have never met another Chinese in Hama, except the 2 other ALTs who came on the JET programme together with me. It was great to see another familiar face, and to be able to converse in Chinese.

Next, how is the sequence decided? It was decided via a Japanese game, where you draw vertical and horizontal lines haphazardly to form a grid, then you write your name on one of the vertical lines, and see which number it leads to at the end of it. (In Japanese, it is called あみだくじ Amida Kuji.) I was the third one. I like number 3. :)

Then.. the moment came. At first it went well, the audience did laugh at certain parts of my speech, which was great! But then I didn't allocate time for pauses for these moments and I panicked. And then towards the end, when they started to show the "2min 30s", "3 min", "3 min and 30s" signs... I started to make mistakes, I even said "sumimasen" and repeated one sentence again. LOL.

After the 3 minutes speech, we had a Q&A session for the next 2 minutes, whereby the judges will ask us random questions, and we will answer in Japanese.

So... I really didn't expect to win a prize. In the end, I got 努力賞. There were other prizes like Judges Choice, Humour Prize and Happy Prize. Other shortlisted participants also received a consolation prize each. If you went by the prize amount, I think I got 3rd. Yeah... number 3 again. :D

I am so glad I joined the contest. :) It boosted my confidence by leaps and bounds.

By the way, the exchange student at my school, she's fantastic! She came in 1st! :D