"Pace of Life in Vietnam" – From a Touching Story to First Prize in Japanese Speaking Contest
04th June 2018
A proud student of the 2nd cohort Master's program in Area Studies (majoring in Japanese Study) of VNU Vietnam Japan University (VJU), Hoang Thi Cham won hands down the first Prize in the Japanese Speaking Contest as part of the Japanese Language Festival 2018 on May 20th with “I would like to present to Japan a Vietnam’s charm.” The contest was held by the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam (JF).
Inspiration from the Simple Things in Life
Cham shared that this is not her first participation in this contest. For this year, however, she signed up not just for the contest, but an opportunity to reassess her Japanese proficiency after one year studying at VJU.
Needless to say, “Pace of Life in Vietnam” was inspired by a true story, which came as a coincidence. It was through the movie “Immersed in the Vietnamese Wind” shown in the Vietnamese – Japanese Cultural Exchange session that Cham and VJU students attended.
It was based on a true story of Komatsu Miyuki, a freelance journalist cum Japanese teacher working in Hanoi. Her mother, who got dementia, was left to Miyuki’s care after her father passed away, as she was the only child. Therefore, despite her great concerns about Hanoi’s living environment, medical system, health care facilities, and so on, she decided to move her mother to Hanoi for better attendance. What came as a surprise was that, as the Japanese advanced treatments failed to cure the disease, her life in Vietnam, surrounded by its hospitable, friendly and affectionate people, helped to better her conditions.
Komatsu Miyuki also found herself immersed in Vietnamese life. She came to know about the wives and progeny of Japanese veterans, among whom was old lady Xuan, who was separated from her husband for fifty years but raised her child and never failed to wait for him. She dedicated her time and efforts, for the past thirty years, to studying the veterans’ families, writing articles on newspapers and magazines, and working with new agencies to bring the story to Japan, fulfilling their dreams. “Visitors to Vietnam, upon immersed in its pace of life, in the sincere and simple affections projected by its people,” says Cham, “would in turn generate another kind of warmth. Such pace of life is the attractiveness that I would like to present to my Japanese friends in this contest.”
Affections Bring Success
“To be honest, I faced quite a lot of pressures preparing for this contest, because it coincided with my busiest time at school,” says Cham, sharing about the challenges she had in the contest. “Fortunately, I received enormous support from VJU lecturers and friends.”
In addition to fixing her Japanese pronunciation, Japanese teachers at VJU, including Shinobu Aibara and Ito Mariko, gave Cham the opportunity to deliver her speech in front of the class. Through this, she received helpful inputs to polish the speech.
Cham also shared that, before her contest day Ms. Aibara advised her to bring out her strengths and experience to the contest instead of overthinking and pressuring herself. This gave Cham more strength to calm down and be confident for the competition. She said, “I think that competitions like this are a good chance for students to not only nail their knowledge, confidence and public speaking skills, but also to mingle and make friends. In addition, they have the opportunity to impress the judges and guests who are Japanese professors and businessmen, thereby creating their own future opportunities.”