Past Features

May 1, 2007 (Vol. 5, No. 7)

Japanese Language Student Wins Recognition in National Essay Contest

Melida Maldonado and Professor Asako Tochika
Melida Maldonado and Professor Asako Tochika

Melida Maldonado, a senior at Marble Hill High School for International Studies, has won third place and a $1,500 award in the Japan Center at Stony Brook-Canon Essay Competition. The competition aims to promote awareness and understanding of Japan in the United States and to help young Americans broaden their international horizons. Maldonado, who is enrolled in the Lehman College Now Program, is currently in Prof. Asako Tochika's Advanced Japanese II course at Lehman.

The theme for this year's competition was Japan and Me, and contestants were instructed to discuss one or more aspects of Japanese culture in relation to their own personal experiences and ideas. Of the 193 submissions received, Maldonado's essay, "Foggy Home Stay," which discussed her own experiences staying for a short time with a family in Japan, was one of three selected as the best in the High School Division.

Maldonado described how, over the course of her ten-day visit, she managed to overcome her own apprehension, struggling through cultural differences to realize that "there is so much more to learning languages than just memorization of words and grammar patterns—it is how one uses these skills to clarify misunderstandings between different cultures in order to help others."