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Presenting solutions for overcoming social problems in English
Six prizes at various English speech contests!

Maya Ishikawa

The Mayor of Honolulu All Japan Youth English Oratorical Contest is a speech contest in which students from throughout Japan gather and present in English solutions to various problems faced by Japan and the world. Sponsored by ECC Foreign Language Institute, this contest is primarily evaluated based on the originality of contestants’ ideas. Each year students who possess high logical composition skills and creativity, in addition to strong English abilities, step on to this high level stage to compete with each other.

A member of the Waseda English Speaking Association (WESA) official club, Maya Ishikawa participated in the university student division of the 43rd Mayor of Honolulu All Japan Youth English Oratorical Contest (out of 118 applicants). The theme the participants were given was “how to clear the way to lasting peace.” Based on her experiences in elementary school when she attended an international school in Thailand, Ishikawa chose “let’s eliminate stereotypes” as her subject.

“When I drew a red sun during arts and crafts time, the other students told me that the sun is not red. Assumptions such as this can also develop into social problems. It was then that I decided to call attention to the dangers of preconceptions.”

Ishikawa placed second in the university student division of the 43rd Mayor of Honolulu All Japan Youth English Oratorical Contest; here she is being presented with a plaque by the chief contest judge.

Tensions reach their peak just prior to presenting. The moment Ishikawa steps on to the stage, however, she says she is wrapped in the omnipotent feeling that she can do anything. Combining English abilities instilled through international schooling with abundant emotional expressiveness, Ishikawa presented her speech with passion before several hundred spectators. As a result, she placed second in the contest. This achievement also earned her the 2013 Waseda Student Culture Award.

“I just like putting what I’m thinking into words.” Ishikawa had the following to say about how she came to be interested in English speech contests. In her second year at Waseda, she was selected to be a representative in the WESA-sponsored Waseda Cup All Japan University Students English Speech Contest when she chose to enter. Although it was unusual for someone who was not a third-year student to enter, Ishikawa defeated seven skilled opponents from other universities to win the contest. Discovering how much fun it was, Ishikawa began actively entering contests in her third year.

English speech contests require participants to dig deep into social problems and propose novel solutions. Ishikawa scans every available media source and takes pains to find social problems for which no definitive solution has been created. Ishikawa says she realized the importance of looking at problems from the perspective of what students can do, and she explores ideas for solutions by discussing themes she is interested in with family and friends while maintaining an awareness of the people directly involved. Her efforts have borne fruit, with Ishikawa winning prizes in six contests, including two first place victories in her third year. Ishikawa has flourished as a pillar of the WESA speech department.

In reality however, Ishikawa is quite shy. When she first entered Waseda, she focused solely on her classes and she intended to refrain from participating in extracurricular activities; however, her older sister was unable to simply stand by and watch instead encouraged her to join WESA. In addition to her club activities, Ishikawa also belongs to the Japanese Red Cross Language Service Volunteers and has experience translating picture books to be sent to developing nations and interpreting for high school international exchange meets. Since becoming so active, the world has opened up for Ishikawa.

“I’ve been able to lead a truly fulfilling student life thanks to all of these activities I participated in. It really is a good idea to try doing whatever you are interested in!”

After graduation, Ishikawa aims to balance work and study, intending to study philosophy in graduate school at Waseda while working. Ishikawa offers the message “take on new challenges at Waseda, a school overflowing with diverse possibilities,” not only to current Waseda students but her future self as well.

Ishikawa presenting a seven-minute speech without a script. Making one’s speech with plenty of emotion is also an important judging point.

Ishikawa together with friends in the Waseda English Speaking Association. Report meetings are held every Monday.

In high school Ishikawa belonged to the tea ceremony club. As a child, Ishikawa lived overseas and learned the importance of studying Japanese culture.


Maya Ishikawa
Fourth Year, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Originally from Tokyo, Maya Ishikawa graduated from Ochanomizu University Senior High School. She is proficient in English in part thanks to spending seven years in Thailand between the ages of 6 and 13. In high school, Ishikawa devoted herself to dance and the tea ceremony, while in university she has spent her time involved in English speech contests and volunteering. Her hobby is reading.