Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Taste of Tokyo

Over the weekend, Mykell and I went to Chicago on another mother/daughter outing. We can't seem to stay away from that town.

This time we went for a Japanese Language Speech Contest at the Consulate General of Japan offices. Maybe Chicago isn't our city of choice but it doesn't hurt that the offices are on Michigan Avenue at Watertower Plaza, with Neiman-Marcus on the main level of the building. Anyway, seven Japanese judges listened to Mykell's speech and graded her performance. Talk about pressure. There were 4 divisions: the elementary/middle school division, then the high school division (all less than 3 years experience), then the college/adult divisions.

A traditional kimono at the Japanese Information Center

As the judges finalized their decisions, we got to eat caviar and sushi, which might be great for high society gals, but I still gag at the thought. We also got to play with a robot prototype that looked like a baby harp seal. So cute. And then came the moment of anticipation.

Traditional dolls to celebrate Girls Day, March 3

As the prizes were awarded, each contestant accepted their gift bag and stepped off the stage. Mykell was downhearted when the English-Japanese/Japanese-English dictionaries were gone, and when the Barnes & Noble gift cards were all given out. But then they announced the awards for third place. Mykell and I looked at each other. Third place already? How could she make it so far? She and one other girl were tied for the least amount of language experience. Mykell couldn't be in the top three! And then they read off the winners in each division for second place. What? Mykell still wasn't called! At that point we were both stunned speechless. All we could do was laugh.

She got first place!! Way to go, Mykell!

I still can't believe it, but it was a wonderful experience seeing her up on the stand accepting her award, knowing all the hours she has put in to get this far. You see, Mykell started Japanese a semester late (Erik and I thought Chinese would be a better language to learn, from a global perspective, but Mykell hated it and quit). Because she started Japanese winter semester, she had to take Japanese 101 as an independent study course, only meeting with the instructor once a week for pronunciation/culture instruction. Japanese 102 was also taken independent study, over her summer break, with no instructor assistance at all. Upon her return to campus in the fall she had to take the Japanese 102 final to see if she could continue Japanese 201 with the rest of the class. It was a very stressful time, but her perseverance paid off and she passed with a high score. So, with all that said, Japanese 201 is actually the only semester Mykell has had to speak the language with other students. And now Japanese 202. It is amazing that her instructor would nominate her to compete in this competition at all. And then for her to be a finalist? Wow. It says something of Mykell's tenacity.

All the contestants and judges
She doesn't stand out, does she?

Mykell and her instructor, Fumiko Chiuini, have worked so hard and put in so many hours to translate Mykell's speech to Japanese (It was titled, "The Importance of Motherhood"), get the speech memorized, intonation exact, etc. etc. Congratulations to them both. It is an award well deserved.

Now we'll have to wait and hear about nationals . . . .


Jennie said...

Congratulations! That is so exciting. The intelligent Gus and Aid genes have certainly been handed down to your children. Well, that and a ton of hard work. Well done you guys!

Jackee said...

Congrats, McKell! You have some wicked smart kids. They must take after their mom! *grins*

Have a great day!

Annissa said...

Wow, that is so neat! It makes a parent proud! Good job McKell!