The Japan America Society of Minnesota monthly newsletter posted this article on the J-Quiz, a regional annual high school Japanese language and culture competition in which the winners of various age groups go on to compete at the National Japan Bowl in Washington D.C.
With determination and a sense of adventure, seven Minnesota high school Japanese language students and their teacher were on a plane to Washington, D.C. on April 7th to compete in the National Japan Bowl and to enjoy the United States’ largest Japanese cultural celebration, the Sakura Matsuri or “cherry-blossom festival.”
The trip, organized by JASM, was part of the Grand Prize for the students who placed first in their respective levels at the 2011 J-Quiz Japanese Language and Culture Competition in February.
Level II was represented by Luke Goudy, Huy Tram, and Thiansay Khamphonme from Shakopee High School. Katie Medlar, and Kami Hebert, represented Level III from Edina High School while Hersha Guron and Cindy Pyles were the winners of Level IV.
Naomi Satoh, the Edina High School and Shakopee High School Japanese teacher, accompanied the students. JASM Executive Director Ben van Lierop also joined the group as the an organization representative.
The competition was quite intense with over 190 students competing from schools from across the country including California, Florida, Connecticut, and even Guam. Our students from Minnesota proved they were “winners” by participating enthusiastically and doing their best in their respective competitions.
During the Japan Bowl, special recognition of the situation in Japan and the opportunity to support relief efforts were provided. Students could write messages that would be conveyed to students in the disaster-hit areas of Tohoku.
Following the competition, the students took in the sights of Washington D.C., visiting the National Mall, with the Lincoln Memorial and a variety of museums. The highlight of the trip was the Sakura Matsuri, the largest Japan related festival in the U.S.
Overall, the students enjoyed many exhibits of Japanese culture and performances throughout their adventure and JASM would like to thank the sponsors who made this trip possible.