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Hong Kong Cup All Japan University Students English Speech Contest First Prize winner

When asked why he chose to study at Waseda, Mr. Sakoda offered the following trivial reason: "I really liked the Okuma Auditorium's clock tower." He saw it on the day of his entrance examination, and liked its dignified design. "I was also really attracted to the fact that most Waseda students from all years study at the same campus. I thought it was a great chance to interact with a wide variety of students."

His hopes proved true, and he spends every day at Waseda interacting with people of different nationalities, ages, and genders, as well as absorbing diverse values. While in school, he set up the international exchange network PUNKd with his friends to create a new area to interact with different cultures. Along with international exchange in Japan, Mr. Sakoda also travels around the world, including East Asia and the Middle East. "I'm still just a beginner. I want to see more of the world," he said. To save up money, he also has a part-time job at a construction company.

Mr. Sakoda actually applied to this speech contest so that he could go overseas - the winners earn the privilege of visiting Hong Kong. "This event is something that only students can do. It's a cheap and interesting tour. This speech happened to be in English, but there are all sorts of opportunities for students to go overseas to places other than Hong Kong. I think it would be a shame not to take advantage of them." He spoke on the topic of Hong Kong as part of his theme of "economic integration in East Asia," incorporating discussions he had with members of the Speech Club and friends. "I'm very happy to be blessed with friends, starting with the Speech Club, that I can have serious discussions with. I think that the discussions I've had with them up until now led to my victory." Mr. Sakoda also said that it's easy to find a way to go overseas if you skillfully incorporate it into your own field.

"Hong Kong is a unique place that is constantly changing. I lived there when I was young, but when I visited recently for the first time in a while, it was really different," said Mr. Sakoda. While being fond of Hong Kong's diversity and broad-mindedness, "we also have to think about unchanging and lasting elements, like traditions and culture." To research such issues, Mr. Sakoda wishes to visit many regions, beginning with the Middle East where innovation and tradition are in opposition.In the future he hopes to work in the energy industry, such as fossil fuels or natural gas, which offers many chances to visit the Middle East.

"Of course, it's not good to always be looking at others without examining yourself. That's why I want to spend my last year before graduating traveling around Japan and re-discovering my own culture," he said, his eyes sparkling.

What sort of path will Mr. Sakota take after looking both inside and outside? We can't wait to see what he does over the next year.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Keita Sakoda

Born in 1986 in Saitama Prefecture. From the time when he was a third year student in elementary school, he lived for five years in Hong Kong and five years in Taipei. He graduated from the Upper School at the Taipei American School, and is currently a fourth year student in the School of Political Science and Economics. Mr. Sakoda is a member of the Waseda Speech Club, and is part of Mr. Takahiko Tanaka's seminar. He is also one of the co-founders of PUNKd, an international exchange network. In December 2008, his speech on the theme of "economic integration in East Asia" was selected from 70 taped entries, and he won First Prize among 15 participants at the 2nd Hong Kong Cup All Japan University Students English Speech Contest 2008. Mr. Sakoda's hobby is walking.