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Tackling social issues in French!
Awarded prize for excellence at the French Contest

Yuuma Ando

The French Contest is an event where different generations of people from high school students to working adults give speeches on the future of exchanges between Japan and France or other social issues in French. The theme for the 2011 contest was "La catastrophe du 11 mars, et apres?" (The disaster of March 11 and afterwards). Yuuma Ando won the "French Ambassador" award of excellence on his first try.

Following March 11, Yuuma was shocked at the changes in public attitudes; as Japanese youth started to positively get involved in volunteer and fund-raising activities. As a proposal to link such changes in action by young people with participation in politics, he gave a speech entitled, "Les jeunes: l'avenir du Japon" (The youth: The future of Japan). "As I was the first speaker, I was tense. Each speaker gave a wonderful speech, so I didn't expect to receive the prize for excellence. I was really surprised. It seems that the difference was the Q&A session after the speeches."

In front of the Eiffel Tower, a noted place representing Paris

With his achievement recognized, Ando also won the WASEDA Student Culture Award

In relation to the additional prize for language training, he carelessly said, "As I have already finished the highest class of language school when I studied abroad in 3rd year, I think I went there to review my lessons." Yuuma started to study French when he was a senior high student. Right now he mainly studies sociology, but he majored in science at high school. "I was good at scientific subjects and was interested in research, but one day, I felt I would use language as a tool to move around the world and decided to study the humanities."

In high school, in order to improve his command of French, he became friends with 100 people on the Internet and devoted himself to improve his language skills. Driven by his aspiration to play an active role in the world, he entered the School of International Liberal Studies. There he met many students with diverse backgrounds from international to Japanese students who graduated from international schools. He says he was enlightened when he met comrades with different values and with whom he can be involved in in-depth discussions. Did he not lose confidence surrounded by highly unique students? "I re-evaluated myself as a student who had worked hard in Japan. I was particular about not only English but also French because I need it as a tool to establish my identity. Besides, if you master two or more languages, you can have multiple views toward a single subject."

He has actively talked to French students, became friendly, and of course has lunch while discussing things in French. He joined the seminar by Associate Professor Sylvain Detey, and has spent four years, immersing himself in French. He also studied at the Institute of political studies of Lille for a year, and is now enjoying his final year at university.

He looks back on his fulfilling university days. "I became a 'citizen' from being a 'student.' I got in touch with various values, widened my horizons, and came to like thinking and discussing issues. I am thankful for the environment WASEDA University offers with many friends to have discussions."

After graduation, he plans to enter a graduate school in France and major in sociology. "In France, I'm an outsider. I must work hard to adopt myself to different values and cultures with more acceptance and generosity. But I'm looking forward to it!" He says that he wants to continue his studies in France. As a 'cosmopolitan' who addresses global issues, he is about to fly high now.

At the French Contest award-giving ceremony, Yuuma is in the front row, third from right

A view of Lille, the city in northern France where he studied


Yuuma Ando

Born in Kanagawa Prefecture. Graduated from WASEDA University Senior High School. 4th year, School of International Liberal Studies. Every day, he listens to French radio programs via Podcast. "To efficiently use my limited time, I listen to the program at double speed." His favorite quote is Charles de Gaulle's "How can anyone govern a nation that has 365 different kinds of cheese?"