Grinnell students win Japanese language awards
Three Grinnell College students received awards in the 24th Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest at the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago, Ill., with Da Yea Kim ’12 winning the overall grand prize, a round-trip ticket to Japan. Pengjun Shen ’11 won the third prize in category 3 of the contest, and Alex Aaring ’13 took the JCCC award for category 4. The students were coached and accompanied by Nobu Asaoka, lecturer in Japanese, and Ui Yamada, visiting instructor in Japanese.
In order to prepare students, the Japanese language program has held a language competition over the past three years, with the winners of the Grinnell contest going on to submit applications to the Chicago contest. Four Grinnell students submitted applications this year, and Kim, Shen, and Aaring were chosen to compete.
Kim’s success is not only a Grinnell first, but also a sign that Grinnell’s Japanese program has become highly competitive against those of larger universities. Only once before in the 24-year history of the contest has a student from a smaller college won the contest, when a student from Macalester placed first in 1994. Every other grand prize winner has attended a large state or private university, where Japanese programs may teach hundreds of students every year. Asaoka says that Grinnell’s smaller program might provide an advantage.
“I believe that our smaller classes with more individual attention to each student have enabled Grinnellians to compete against those big universities,” says Asaoka.
The Japanese Language Speech Contest was started in 1984 to encourage the study of Japanese in the Midwest. The contest is open to all individuals who meet the contest criteria and live in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, or Wisconsin.