For the fourth year in a row Bowdoin Japanese language students won top awards at the Seventh Annual Japanese Language Contest organized by the Consulate General of Japan in Boston. The contest was held on April 8, 2017 at the Brookline Public Library, Coolidge Corner Branch and participants came from colleges and universities all over New England.
The competition is comprised of a speech contest and an essay contest. This year’s competition included a high school competition for the first time. The college competition includes Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Divisions for the essay contest and Intermediate and Advanced Divisions for the speech contest.
Michael Amano ’17, won first place in the Advanced Division for his essay “The Heavy Baton.” Michael’s essay was based on his experiences last summer meeting and interviewing people in Hiroshima, Japan. The interviews were research for an exhibition at the Bowdoin Art Museum about a 1953 art exchange between children in Hiroshima, Japan and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Michael’s essay was a thoughtful and sober reflection on the responsibility of remembering the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
Nan Ding ’19, won first place in the Intermediate Division for her essay “The Appeal of Ganbatte.” Nan wrote about the Japanese word “ganbatte” and its unique ability to convey both support from others and achievement through personal effort. In this sense it is very different from a phrase such as “Good luck!” Nan’s essay also highlighted the word’s magic ability to connect one person to another.
Justin Ehringhaus ’17, won second place in the Advanced Division for his speech “The Waterfall.” Last year, Justin received a prestigious MEXT Scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education and spent the academic year at Hiroshima University. During this time he joined the sumo club and participated in practices and competitions. Justin’s speech was about a trip to a waterfall with a fellow wrestler who revealed a different side of himself with a deep understanding and appreciation of nature in Japan. This was Justin’s second time placing in the speech contest. He won second place in the Advanced Division of the speech contest in 2014.
Senior lecturer Hiroo Aridome, who worked closely with the students on their essays and speech, noted that this year’s competition was particularly fierce with sixty-four entries for the essay contest and thirty-seven entries for the speech contest. This was a notable increase from last year and the quality of the competition was quite high. “Excellent Japanese language skills are not enough. You have to write or talk about something that resonates with you and convey that depth of understanding and emotion to your audience.”