October 16, 2005 – Speech contest

Today I went to the English / Japanese speech contest at Numazu library. The event was hosted by NICE – Numazu association for International Communications and Exchanges (shouldn’t that be NAICE?)

There were two hosts to the event – one speaking English and one speaking Japanese. The Penpal was the English speaking host for the day. To add a bit of class to the event, the hosts were dressed nicely, with The Penpal wearing a kimono.

A common mistake that non-Japanese people make is to confuse a kimono with a yukata. A kimono refers to a formal and elaborate garment that can cost thousands of dollars, where a yukata is a lighter, less formal robe. In order to get properly dressed in her kimono, she went to a special shop before the event where trained staff spent almost 90 minutes getting her dressed.

This was my first time to see The Penpal in her kimono, and she looked fantastic!

The speeches were interesting, covering a wide range of topics. My favourite speech of the day was in English, given by a retired older woman who studies English as a hobby. When she started her speech she was so nervous that she was visibly shaking. As she got into her speech and got more comfortable, her confidence grew, and by the end she finished strong and looked very happy.

I truly admire the courage of anyone who gets up in front of a crowd to speak, especially in a foreign language. If I am still in Japan at the same time next year, I would like to test my Japanese skills and enter the contest myself.

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