Student earns top honours in Japanese speech contest

Posted: April 16, 2012 10:00 a.m.

Student Sarah Forsyth being interviewed about her recent win.
Student Sarah Forsyth being interviewed about her recent win. Photo: Tomoko Lamb

University of Regina student Sarah Forsyth’s Japanese language skills were on full display last month as she took home honours in a prestigious public speaking competition. Her speech, a comical look at the problems with vending machines in Japan and Canada, won both a regional and national award in a Japanese speech contest sponsored in part by the Embassy and Consulates-General of Japan.

Forsyth, who is a non-native Japanese speaker, is a fourth year Arts student with a double major in Japanese and International Studies and a minor in Religious Studies. A first place win in the advanced category of the Alberta regional competition – which also included contestants from the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Mount Royal University and MacEwan University – meant that she advanced to the national competition held at the University of British Columbia on March 31. There she won an award in the Special Category, a nod comparable to judges’ choice. 

“My speech was more light-hearted than some of the more serious topics, so I’m not surprised I didn’t win first place at Nationals”, she says. “But it was a real honour to win the Special award for giving the judges a few laughs.”

The prestigious Japanese Speech Contest is held annually with the endorsement of the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa, and is intended to promote and encourage Japanese language study in Canada. The competition is also sponsored by several Japanese cultural and educational organizations and corporations. 

Forsyth has visited Japan and says she hopes to head back for an extended stay after she graduates next year. “I’d definitely like to spend more time in Japan”, she says. “I’d like to find work as an English teacher or maybe some other type of position. Maybe I’ll even look for work at an Embassy or Consulate. I’m excited to continue using and improving my language skills”.