Japanese American Society Iwakuni hosts speech contest

Students from MCAS Iwakuni and students from local Japanese schools, pose for a group photo during the 58th annual Japanese and English speech contest in Iwakuni City, Japan, Nov. 17, 2019. The speech contest is held for participants to experience each other’s culture by learning and reciting a speech in their counterparts’ language. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Triton Lai)
Students from MCAS Iwakuni and students from local Japanese schools, pose for a group photo during the 58th annual Japanese and English speech contest in Iwakuni City, Japan, Nov. 17, 2019. The speech contest is held for participants to experience each other’s culture by learning and reciting a speech in their counterparts’ language. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Triton Lai)

Japanese American Society Iwakuni hosts speech contest

by Lance Cpl. Triton Lai
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

Residents of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni and local Japanese residents attended the 58th annual Japanese and English speech contest in Iwakuni City, Japan, Nov. 17, 2019.

The speech contest was held for station residents and local Japanese residents to experience each other’s culture by learning and reciting a speech in their counterparts’ language.
U.S. Marine Corps Col. Lance Lewis, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni, gave an opening speech during the event and stayed to support all the participants.

Students from MCAS Iwakuni and local Japanese schools participated in the speech contest. They were separated into different grades ranging from 3rd and 4th grade to high school.

Two of those participants were Alec Forester from Matthew C. Perry High School and Rayna Ralston from Iwakuni Middle School.

“I was speaking Japanese in the speech contest,” said Forester. “I’ve been speaking Japanese since I was 12 years old but I started training for the speech contest a month ago.”

“My favorite part of the contest is supporting the other students,” said Ralston “Even though there was a language barrier we understood their speeches.”

“It gives the kids on base the opportunity to break out of their American shell and come here and see and hear from kids that are the same age,” said Lewis. “For the children off-base they’re learning a new language and are able to exchange culture and we’re able to do the same.”

The contest proved that despite the language barriers and cultural differences, Japanese and American people go through the same emotions and situations. Through the speeches, contestants were able to express themselves to each other to build a better relationship between the two communities.

“It was great seeing the kids up there on stage trying their best with a second language and because all the topics were so diverse and positive,” said Lewis. “To be able to express emotion and humor in another language and even in your own language is hard and it really came across in all of their speeches.”

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