Posts Tagged NICE

October 1, 2006 – Speech contest

Today I attended the annual English / Japanese speech contest at Numazu library. The event was hosted by NICE – Numazu Association for International Communication and Exchanges. The Penpal is a member of NICE, so I went along to check it out.

When I learned about the contest a few months ago, I had given some thought to entering. The demand was much greater than the supply – 24 people tried to enter but only 10 Japanese speeches were presented. There were also 10 English speeches by Japanese residents. My favourite speeches were about the differences in communication styles between Japanese and American housewives, and an elderly Japanese man’s scorching rant about those annoying teens in sweatpants who hang out in front of convenience stores.

I really admire the courage shown by everyone who made a speech: public speaking makes a lot of people nervous, nevermind public speaking in your second language.

I overslept before the contest and didn’t have any time to eat before I got there. By the end of 20 speeches I was STARVING. On my way home I stopped at the new donair food truck in front of Don Kihote. If you’ve never eaten a donair, you are truly missing out on one of life’s great pleasures.

When I got home I received an invite from the Penpal to come over for dinner. I was still full from my late lunch, but I never, EVER refuse homemade curry. Yum!

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January 2, 2006 part 1 – Karaoke without beer!?

Today I spent some time hanging out with The Penpal and some of her friends from NICE (Numazu Association for International Communications and Exchanges). We went to karaoke together in the afternoon which was memorable for two reasons: there was no drinking, and I learned how challenging it could be in Japan for someone in a wheelchair. Since these are two very different themes, I am going to make them into separate posts.

Karaoke without beer

I have lost track of how many times I have been to karaoke since coming to Japan almost two and a half years ago. Karaoke in Japan is great – there are private rooms to sing with your friends, there is a phone on the wall to order food and drinks, and alcohol is usually cheap and plentiful. I rarely touch a microphone without having at least one or two drinks. Most of the time I go to karaoke with other English teachers at the end of a late shift. Today I was out with The Penpal’s friends in the afternoon, and nobody was ordering drinks.

Don’t get me wrong – it is both possible to do karaoke without alcohol, and possible to have fun. However, when you sing sober, you become aware of how terrible your singing actually is. I am not a great singer, but this never usually stops me. Today however, I avoided a lot of my regular songs with notes that are outside of my one octave range. I also was a lot less theatrical; no dancing around or striking rockstar style microphone poses. In addition, I did not pick up the spare microphone to duet on songs that I didn’t really know well.

Overall, it was a very different experience than usual, but I still had fun and got to spend some time with The Penpal and her friends. After singing we all went out for yakiniku, which is a great way to end any day.

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