(short for speech contest)
In late fall, it was announced that there was going to be a “speech contest.” When I heard “speech contest,” I thought it would be an original speech that you did in front of everyone and you’d be scored on content and presentation. I pondered about what I’d say. I could talk about my experiences in my HS in Suburbia and compare it to my JHS here in Pumpkin City and say something corny about international understanding and blow everyone away. I’d been in Speech Honors in Suburbia, and I’d practiced with the Speech Team. The other competitors would never know what hit them.
Except I found out that it wasn’t a speech contest, it was a recitation contest. You recited a set part of the English textbook (it was a simplified version of the second half of “The Merchant of Venice.”) My interest waned instantaneously, but I was supposed to compete in the “returnee” category. The returnees were allowed to edit the textbook, so I made revisions so that I could include the whole story. I dragged out my “Complete Works of William Shakespeare” and tossed in a few original lines I thought were good (hey, no one else in the competition will use the word “perjury!”).
My English (non-) teacher was so pleased with himself for having not one but three returnees to take with him to the Pumpkin Prefecture competition. I wondered if I would find someone like myself. Even the two other returnee kids from my school had Japanese accents. No one was accent free, except for one girl from Buffalo. I hoped I would see her again in HS, but I didn’t.
And yes, I won. Even the girl from Buffalo didn’t have the presentation skills that a semester of Speech class and watching your friends practice Dramatic Interpretation for speech team will give you. They never knew what hit them.