Saturday, April 14, 2012

Speech Nihon

I've been receiving announcements through the Kagoshima mailing list for a couple of months now. For the most part, it's been used for announcing certain events, and cars for sale. Around Feb. 22 there was an announcement promoting a series of stories about Japanese history and culture, supported by the Volunteer Center, to be held on Sunday, the 26th. A few of the presentations, especially the one about youkai (monsters) looked interesting. I had some piecework to finish first, so I couldn't get out of the apartment until close to 1 PM. I went to the Volunteer Center, but the building was mostly empty. On a whim, I went next door to the International Center, and discovered that the event was being held in the same auditorium that my speech contest had been in back in January.

(Speech on Japanese girl's fashion)

I was finally able to get a flier of the event, and discovered that it was actually a graduation project for students attending the English lessons at IBS (International Brilliant Students). Most of the speeches ran at least 15 minutes. Some of the students were better at English than others, but it was like all of them received the same presentation training. There was a slide show, with background music, and every single one of the students would take a few steps in one direction, stand, gesture to the screen, stay in one place for 10 seconds talking, then take a few steps in another direction and repeat. It looked very robotic.

(Speech on "dou" - "the way", as in judo and cha-do (tea ceremony).)

My initial reaction was to just sleep between speeches that I wanted to watch, but I realized that this could be a learning experience in what works and doesn't work, for use in my next Japanese speech contest, if I decide to try again next year. One student in particular had serious problems in remembering her lines, and she would finish one part too quickly and have to wait a full minute for the slide to change. She spent a lot of time apologizing. The conditions for my contest are completely different, and we aren't allowed to use props or slides, but the sensation of being at a loss and going into panic are the same. She was obviously relieved when the slide show ended.

The presentation that I liked best was on Hayabusa, the Japanese satellite that visited an asteroid and successfully returned to Earth in 2010. It was a fairly superficial speech, but had nice pictures, and the student was very enthusiastic about the subject.

I wish I'd known that this event was just an advertisement for IBS, rather than being a collection of stories about Japan's history and culture, because then I could have scheduled my time better. As it was, the event was misrepresented in the Kagoshima newsletter announcement.

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