As I mentioned in my post about returning to blogging, I entered and won my university’s Japanese speech contest this year, as well as last year’s. I also came in 3rd place at North Carolina’s speech contest at Duke University (a much more prestigious university than mine). So I figured it would be kind of fun to share my speeches from the past two years, as well as the overall experience of the contests. The picture above is also not from either of those speeches, but from my Freshmen year speech two years ago, when I came in 3rd place at my University. That was taken right after I tried to accept my award too early, while my teacher was still speaking. Oops!
My speech from this year is titled 「私の留学経験」or “My study abroad experience,” and my speech from last year is my attempt at comedic fictional story telling in Japanese, titled 「オバマ様の日常生活」or “The Daily Life of Barack Obama-sama” (I was attempting to make a Daily Life of High School Boys joke with that title).
I’ll basically just copy and paste my speech in Japanese from the word document I typed it in, and then translate what I was basically trying to say in English. So even if you can’t read Japanese you can still get a feel for what I was trying to say. I will say that despite the fact I competed at the highest level in both my university’s and NC’s speech contest, my Japanese is nowhere near what I would call “fluent,” so the speeches are pretty basic in my opinion. But I hope they are at least interesting, and I hope the silly speech about Obama makes you chuckle.
I’ll start with the speech about my study abroad, since that one is the more “advance” speech, and probably the more interesting.
And now the English translation of my speech:
“Today, I’d like to talk about my study abroad in Japan. First of all, before going to Japan, I had never flown on a plane. So I was incredibly scared! But, I did better than I thought I would. After I arrived in Japan, I stayed in Osaka for about a week. While I was searching for the Airbnb room I had reserved, I got lost and could not find it, This was bad, since it was only my first full day in Japan! Even though I was using Google Maps, I still couldn’t find it! However, a nice old lady came to my aid, and we were able to find it together.
Another funny experience was when I went to a professional baseball game with my friends. We went to see the Chunichi Dragons play the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. During the game, my friends and I were projected up onto the Jumbotron! While it startled me at first, it was incredibly exciting, and my first time being on one!
In Japan, I made a lot of great friends. Particularly, my friend Minagawa. We became best friends during my time in Japan, and met at my dormitory’s dining hall. One day, I had been eating dinner alone. Then suddenly, two random Japanese guys came up and talked to me, asking me all kinds of questions like ‘Are you american? British? You look a lot like Tom Cruise! Do you have any Japanese friends? We should be friends!’ And so after that, we talked together for 5 hours! And the rest, is history. That, is how I met my silly best friend Minagawa. Even today, we still talk a lot.
During the same time, my girlfriend also studied abroad, except at different universities. I studied at Nanzan University in Nagoya, and she studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai in Hirakata. Despite studying at different universities, we were able to see each other a lot, and travel together frequently. We went to places like Kyoto, Nishinomiya, and Kobe together. The reason we went to Nishinomya, was because it is used as the model for one of my favorite anime: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. In the anime, the characters go to various places, and most of those places can be found in Nishinomiya! For example, we went to a cafe that the characters go to many times.
But, my favorite city in Japan has to be Tokyo. I was able to do so many once-in-a-lifetime things in Tokyo, like shopping in Shinjuku and Harajuku, going to Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City, eating conveyor belt sushi, and seeing some beautiful Christmas lights.
I made so many wonderful friends and memories in Japan, and I wouldn’t trade these for anything. From getting lost trying to find my Airbnb, to seeing the beautiful Christmas lights, they are all precious memories. Thank you for listening to my speech!”
This speech was kind of made because I really couldn’t come up with anything witty to talk about, but figured my time in Japan might be fun to talk about. Since I had won the speech contest the previous year, I really didn’t care too much about how well I did, and was just participating for fun, and to improve my public speaking skills. The latter being especially important, since I was terrified of public speaking before entering these speech contests. Despite not really caring of the result, it still felt really nice to win. Little did I know that this year, the winners of each level at my school would have to move on to my state’s university-wide speech contest.
Participating at Duke (the state’s contest) made me super nervous just to think about, and was honestly a lot of time out of my busy schedule. I had to meet with my professors about three times a week to add a couple more minutes to my speech, rehearse it all again, and even prepare for content questions about the speech itself. The content questions in particular were nerve-wracking, since you couldn’t know what the judges were going to ask. You could only guess and try your best to cover all bases. One would think that since the questions were about your own speech, that you’d be able to answer them well. But that isn’t the case. I remember one of my teachers asking me about what I thought of the Christmas lights, how they are different from lights in America, and which ones I liked more. While those aren’t difficult questions to answer, they were definitely unexpected. Especially because I only mentioned the lights in two sentences!
In the real contest, I think I did pretty well answering the questions. The MC of the contest asked me about my friend Minagawa, and how he said I looked like Tom Cruise. She asked if I agreed, to which I jokingly replied that I think I look more like Matt Damon. Though honestly I don’t think I look too much like either of them.
The end result of that contest was 3rd place, but I couldn’t be happier. I actually participated against someone who I met at Nanzan (where I studied abroad), but was in a much higher level than me. So I was doomed to lose from the start. But even he came only in 2nd place. So to me, I think I did pretty well. I wouldn’t change anything about the result.
Now here is my second speech, from my Sophomore year’s speech contest. This one is much shorter, and even more basic. But I think I am slightly more proud of this one, since I was able to be funny in a different language and make people laugh. Which may have ignited my dream to be a stand-up comedian, but that is a totally different subject.
今日、私はブラック・オバマ様のにちじょう生活について話します。けっこんしていらっしゃいます。おくさまの名前はミシエル・オバマです。オバマ様はアメリカのだいとうりょうです。オバマ様はだいとうりょうになりましたから、時々スピーチやディベートをなさいます。スピーチのかいしの時、オバマ様は“My Fellow Americans”とおっしゃいます。スピーチをするのが上手ですね。ミット・ロムニとディベートはすごくおもしろかったですね。オバマ様のしゅみはバスケットボールやせいじです。きのう、オバマ様はだいとうりょうのこうほしゃとバスケットボールをなさいました。バー二ー・サンダーズさんは３－Pointをとくてんしました。オバマ様はドナルド・トラムプをSLAM DUNKなさいました。すごかったですよ！オバマ様がいいだいとうりょうですから、私はせいじが好きです。今、私はせいじにきょうみがあります。私はアメリカのだいとうりょうになりたいです。
“Today, I’d like to talk about the daily life of Barack Obama. He is married, and his wife’s name is Michelle Obama. Obama-sama is the president of the USA. Sometimes, he has to give speeches and debate people. During his speeches, he often says his catchphrase “my fellow Americans.” He’s great at speeches, isn’t he? His debate with Mitt Romney was super interesting! Obama-sama’s hobbies are basketball and politics. Yesterday, Obama-sama was playing basketball with the presidential candidates. Mr. Bernie Sanders scored a bunch of 3-pointers and got a triple double. Then, Obama-sama dunked on Donald Trump. It was amazing! Because Obama-sama is such a great president, I’ve started to like politics. I hope to become the president of the USA someday!”
While maybe not as funny when translated into English, the speech got a lot of laughs when I gave it during the contest. I was quite proud of the silly “Obama-sama” rhyme. And at the time, the presidential candidates were still being decided, so I figured it’d be a fun subject to talk about. Obviously the story is fictional, but I just think it is kind of silly to imagine.
It was nice to win that contest, since it was my first time winning anything of that nature. Especially in public speaking, which as I mentioned, I hated. I also won in front of a lot of the students I was a TA (teacher’s assistant) for. So it was nice to be able to prove my ability in front of them, and maybe reinforced their faith in my teaching ability.
As you most likely saw, that speech was a lot more simple, since it was written after only about three semesters of learning Japanese. Whereas the first speech was after 5 semesters, and one of those was spent living in Japan.
I don’t usually do these kinds of wordy, picture-scarce posts often, so sorry if this was a bit drab. But I hope it was fun reading my speeches, and I hope you were able to practice reading some Japanese too!
Anyways, thanks so much for reading!