The annual Japanese High School Speech Contest is a collaboration between the Asian Studies Center and the Japan America Society of Pennsylvania, and is held each year on the Friday before Pitt’s Spring Break, in the William Pitt Union (this year, March 3). Pitt students, staff and faculty all participate along with faculty at CMU, Slippery Rock University and Robert Morris University, serving as judges and volunteers. The contest features a Poster Contest for students in their first year of Japanese or in a Japanese club at school, while the speech contest has four levels for students in their second year and beyond. This year’s poster contest theme was “The most fascinating Japanese technologies.” The Beginner Level speech, delivered by memory, is always a self-introduction. The upper level speeches, also delivered entirely by memory, followed the theme of “Imagine how Japanese society will change in the next 10 years.” The program also features a pedagogy workshop for the high school language teachers, booths and activities for the high school students, lunch and a cultural program prior to the awards ceremony. The Consul from the Consulate General of Japan, New York, always attends the program and awards an electronic dictionary to the Grand Prize winner of the speech contest.
Between 80-90 students from eight high school participated this year: Butler Area High School, Greensburg Salem High School, Norwin High School, Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, Pittsburgh Obama Academy, Shaler Area High School, University Prep High School, and Upper St. Clair High School.