Osaka Prefecture University

International Student from Benin Wins Japanese Essay Contest: Top among 6,793 essays

LastUpDate: March 04, 2019

Emmanuel Ayedoun, a doctoral student at Graduate School of Humanities and Sustainable System Sciences won at “The 2nd Japanese Essay Contest for World Japanese Learners” held by Institute of International Exchange in Tokyo.

The contest theme was “Your opinion on Japan or Your message to Japanese people”. In total, 6,793 essays from learners representing 62 countries and territories were submitted. 2 essays, including Emmanuel’s one, were awarded the first prize. An awarding ceremony is scheduled to take place in April 2019 in Tokyo.

Emmanuel entered the college of sustainable system sciences in 2012, through the special admission program for international students. After obtaining a bachelor and a master in informatics, respectively in 2016 and 2018, he is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree and is a recipient of the JSPS research fellowship for young scientists. His work focuses on developing conversational agents towards enhancing second language learners’ motivation towards communication in the target language.

Comment from Emmanuel Ayedoun

I am truly honored to receive this prestigious award. My sincere thanks go to my advisors, friends, family as well as all of those who always stand by my side. This achievement would not have been possible without their precious support. I see this as a motivation to continue seeking for better understanding of the Japanese culture and promoting cross-cultural awareness.

Summary of Emmanuel’s essay

In his essay, Emmanuel refers to personal experiences during his school life in Japan and depicts Japanese as people that care a lot about others. He added that this is even seen in words or expressions such as “Otsukaresama” that includes elements of acknowledging how hard other persons have worked and expressing gratitude to them. Building on this caring tradition, he suggested that the key for a brighter Japan could be efforts towards further accepting and making the most of others’ voices and opinions even when they are divergent.

About Institute of International Exchange and the contest

Mr. Kazuo Omori, a former reporter at the Asahi Shimbun and his wife Ms. Hiroko Omori founded the Institute of International Exchange in 1989. Since 2016 the institute has been offering learning contents through the internet, to support learners in their study of the Japanese language and culture. This was followed by organizing the first edition of the international essay contest in 2017, which have prompted applications of learners from all over the world.

For the 2nd contest, applications were accepted from May to October, 2018, and were in the rise compared to the previous edition. After thorough initial screening and second screening, winners were selected.

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