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Japanese skills earn student trip

With a fireworks festival, parties and a trip to an onsen (hot spring) lined up for him to enjoy, Conor McDavid is sure hoping he can spend a week in Japan this summer.

After all, the Grade 12 Lindsay Thurber High School student has earned the perks he is in line to receive.

In April, McDavid competed in a high school speech competition, in Japanese, and ended up winning top prize among Alberta high schoolers.

It was not until a month later, though, that he was notified that he had been chosen as the top speech-giver in all of Canada and thus had earned the opportunity to rehash his speech in the Land of the Rising Sun itself.

The provincial competition was the first time he had given a Japanese speech in front of judges.

He said his teacher, Miriam Irons, has consistently pushed him to show off his language skills.

“It started with a song. I sang a Japanese song in front of the school at an assembly. I thought ‘Wow, I like spreading my Japanese and bringing it out there,’” explained McDavid.

McDavid’s long-held passion for Japanese anime helped inspire his speech, which looked at the interconnectivity and differences between Japan and Canada, particularly when it comes to video games.

He said the Japanese tend to enjoy well-developed stories in the games they play, because they are a largely homogeneous society.

“When they work on stuff they work hard and they work together. So if you go to a game company, you won’t see it littered with Americans, it’ll always be Japanese dedicated workers that are putting the story in, making it more enjoyable,” stated McDavid.

To participate in the trip organized by a Japanese non-profit organization, though, McDavid now has to raise some funds to cover airfare costs. He said the organizers cover the participant costs while in Japan, but they want to see if the students are committed enough to get to that stage by having them seek sponsors to cover transportation costs.

Should he make it there, he will be representing Canada amongst a group of 16 international students at the 18th Annual Japanese Speech Competition in Tokyo.

While graduating from high school this year, McDavid will attend a Japanese high school for the next school year on a one-year exchange.

For more information on how to sponsor McDavid, email him at or phone 403-309-9973 or 403-596-5690.



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