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7th All Japan High School Speech Contest Finals and Narration Concert

 I thoroughly enjoyed the 7th All Japan High School Speech Contest Finals (全国高等学校英語スピーチコンテスト) that was held at the Youth Olympic Memorial Center in Tokyo on Sunday, 9th February, 2014.

The eighteen finalists had been selected from thousands of applicants by winning the local and regional preliminary contests, so they came from all over Japan, and everyone of them managed to make it the day before despite the snow storm, thick snow and cancelled flights. 

I am always interested in hearing these speeches as I am teaching at two high schools and also train my students in how to give speeches and presentations. But the level in this contest is extremely high. All of the participants were completely fluent and confident speakers and the subject matter of their speeches was moving, interesting, stimulating and sometimes amusing.

Whilst the judges were making their decision I gave a narration concert on the stage with a gigantic screen and background music. This was the sixth time for me to have the great pleasure and honour of being invited to give a narration concert at this speech contest.

I started off with a narration of "Lily and the Moon"  and after that narrated "A Star of My Own," a story I wrote in a group using the art made in the Face of Wonder Art workshops run by Kaneko Mitsushi.
These art workshops enable people with intellectual disabilities to express themselves freely. The first time I saw the many pieces of art collected in the workshops I was struck by the intensity of the expression in the art and a story came to me sooner than I had expected. Later we formed a group called Mikeneko and we rewrote some parts of the story together.
The story is about a little frog that goes in search of his parents but instead of his parents he finds many strange creatures on his journey that that teach him a little about the meaning of life.
Unlike my other stories, this depth of the story and language used are more suited to more advanced readers or adults. It will be available in e-book form later this year. 
                                                                                                                                                                                   
 
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