East Lansing, Michigan — On Saturday, March 3, 2012, seven students from Ann Arbor Public Schools (Huron High School, Skyline High School, Clague Middle School, and Slauson Middle School) who study Japanese at Ann Arbor’s Ohara Language Institute took part in the 2012 Michigan Japanese Quiz Bowl competition on the campus of Michigan State University (MSU). These students comprised three of a statewide total of 55 teams who competed in six different divisions in a quiz-bowl type format, exercising their knowledge of Japanese spoken and written language and culture.
All three Ohara Language Institute teams won first place in their divisions. Larkin Babbitt, Emily Davila, Emi Jackson (all of Skyline High School) and Chris Schweitzer (of Slauson Middle School) won first place in Division 1. Stuart Brabbs (of Clague Middle School) won first place in Division 3. Hao Hao Wang Pontius and Samantha Liu (of Huron High School) won first place in Division 4, the second highest level. (Emerson School won the other three divisions.)
Instructor Kaori Ohara said, “It was a big day for all of us. I cannot tell you how nervous, excited, and proud I was! ...The students and I all worked hard until the last minute. It was definitely a team effort. The beauty of our teams was that everyone contributed. It was definitely not one-man-show….The questions were not easy, but the students did well even under the pressure.”
Parent Anne Jackson said, “Ohara Sensei is just amazing!”
The Consul General of Japan, the Honorable Kuninori Matsuda, was also in attendance. He talked to the students about his difficulties learning English, and he encouraged all the students to work hard and have fun. Impressed with Stuart Brabbs’ lack of accent, he asked Brabbs how much time he had spent in Japan. Brabbs’ response (in Japanese, of course) was, "I have never even once gone out of the U.S."
Parent Julie Brabbs said, “Many people have said to me ‘Stuart must have worked so hard for this,’ which is funny because I don’t think of it as work since the kids enjoy it so much.”
This is the sixth year that Ohara Language Institute has participated in the annual event, that is directed and co-sponsored by the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU), the MSU Asian Studies Center, MSU’s Office of Gifted and Talented Education and the Japanese Teachers Association of Michigan (JTAM), with support from the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit, the Japan Business Society of Detroit and the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan.
Now in its 19th year, the all-day event draws students from Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Detroit, DeWitt, Garden City, Livonia, Novi, Oak Park, Troy, Utica, and West Bloomfield. Volunteer judges, scorekeepers, and timekeepers come from Eastern Michigan University, Lansing Community College, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. In addition to the quiz competition, there was a student-produced video contest, poster contest, T-shirt design competition, performances by Raion Taiko Japanese Drummers and US Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu martial arts, and a number of traditional Japanese crafts and activities.
Ohara Language Institute offers Japanese language classes in Ann Arbor for adults and for students 4th through 12th grades. For additional information please contact Kaori Ohara at Ohara Langauge Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information at www.oharalanguage.com.