The Speech Contest

Every year students from my school participate in the Prefectural Commercial High School English Speech Contest.  Students who win first place in the original speech and recitation divisions go on to Tokyo to compete in the national English Speech Contest, as one of our students did the past two years.  This year, we had five students take part in the contest.  Two wrote original speeches (read: wrote them in Japanese and then sat with me while I translated it into English.  Normally we would have them try English first but we were a month and a half behind where we normally are by mid-September) and three did recitations.  The two speeches were:

Invisible Struggles

Have you heard of ADHD? The symptoms of ADHD include being unable to listen to others for very long, having trouble concentrating, and being constantly restless.  For this reason, many others keep those with ADHD at a distance and see them as abnormal.

My sister is in the second grade of elementary school. When she was in kindergarten, her friends started teasing and bullying her.  She was left with no friends.  Even now, she often is teased so badly that she starts crying.  I am saddened by how unkind many of the students are.  They don’t even try to understand her.  They say she is, “weird,” or “different,” or her parents do not discipline her enough.  I also thought that.  However, my mother told me that the language school she has gone to since she was three was helping her with some of the symptoms of ADHD.  It was then that I learned that low language skills were a symptom of ADHD.

At that time, I didn’t really know what ADHD was.  Then I did some research on the topic and learned more about ADHD.  Because of this knowledge, my sister and I have become very close.  It was only because I learned its symptoms that I was able to be more patient with my sister.  I also started to realize that everyone is different and even so, we can still understand each other.

In 2013, the W.H.O. estimated that there are about 39 million people suffering from ADHD worldwide.  There are many famous people that have been affected by similar disorders who have gone on to do amazing things.  Steve Jobs, Tom Cruise, and Albert Einstein have persevered despite their struggles.  It is easy to be inconsiderate of people who are struggling because we may forget they even have a problem.  Instead of just calling someone strange, we should remember that they might be struggling with a disorder.  We should all be more considerate.  If we try harder to communicate, we will become a stronger society.  This is the heart of making our country truly barrier free. I, for one, will try to act as a bridge between those with and those without these invisible struggles.



Making Waves Around the World

Did you know that over twenty thousand people visit Hyuga City each year?  We not only have domestic visitors, but international tourists as well.  They come from the US, Australia, Korea, and many other countries around the world.  Hyuga is wonderful, but I want to share with you some ways to make it even better.

Hyuga’s best and most famous feature is its beaches.  Many people come to play in the ocean during the summer.  Others come to surf all year long.  In fact, Hyuga is so well known for its beaches that we have a national surfing competition every year.  In many ways, surfing is at the heart of Hyuga’s culture and tourism.

Just like the ocean is at the center of Hyuga’s culture, it is also at the center of my life.  I can see the ocean from my house and it’s always a short walk away.  Though surfing is not my hobby, my world revolves around surfing.  I know how popular surfing is all around the world.  My parents run a surf shop and often get e-mails from international visitors asking for more information on surfing in Hyuga, but it can be difficult for them to get around there.

Our surfing spots could make Hyuga an international surfing destination, but there are things we need to fix to make Hyuga more accessible for international visitors.  For example, Hyuga doesn’t have many English signs.  We should make Hyuga more foreigner friendly by making more signs in English.  Another way we can make Hyuga more foreigner-friendly is for local surfing schools to offer surfing lessons in English.  Teaching surfing lessons in English could also be a great project for students who are not motivated to learn English.  By showing a practical way that English can be used in their daily life, English will seem more useful.

For Hyuga to continue to thrive, we should remember that visitors are important.  Making Hyuga more international might seem like a big job at first.  But, by starting with small changes, we can make small ripples that will grow and spread until we eventually make waves around the world.


The two of the recitation students read a piece called, “The Science of Smiles,” and the remaining student read, “Fireworks.”  I was surprised that only one of our students placed in the top 5, but at least the first-years who took part will have another two years to try again.  Our one student who did get an honorable mention only did so because she managed to keep smiling even when she had a few slip-ups.  Regardless, I was proud of all of them for trying.



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