Reports from the 2016 J.LIVE Winners

Category III Gold Winner Mr. Robert Duanm


Robert Duanm


Thanks to the flight ticket provided by the amazing event organizers of JLIVE Talk 2016, I was able to enjoy a relaxing, eventful two-week trip exploring Tokyo and the surrounding areas during the holiday season.

Having made a good number of friends in Japan through my previous studies in Japan and my engagement with the Japan-America Student Conference, my trip was less centered around sightseeing and more involved with reconnecting with friends that I haven’t seen in a good while. I stayed at a lodging close to Ikebukuro, and spent much time eating a variety of amazing foods and exploring with friends.

One highlight was Enoshima, an island once famous for holding many cats only to find out that they have been abducted by other tourists over time. Nevertheless, it was beautiful and taking in the different sights of the area made for a wonderful time. I also was fortunate to visit Yokohama’s Chinatown which is a spectacle to behold, and spent a good number of hours at Tsukiji Market.

The holidays in Japan were also a side to the country I hadn’t seen before; seeing Tokyo covered in all sorts of different Christmas lights and various holiday-related paraphernalia, comparing how a different country celebrates the same holiday was both an interesting and new experience. Time with friends was cherished, and the various dinners, karaoke nights, and the occasional nomikai provided me a nice opportunity to loosen up after a tiring semester.

While my time in Japan was relaxing and fun, I was also able to contemplate potential paths and options for the future. As I soon graduate in the coming months with hopes to find work in Japan, being in the country gave me perspective and context to the options I am considering, and in doing so helped me understand what aspects of lifestyle I value the most. With only one remaining semester of college left, this trip was an important interim in my last moments as a university student and I wholeheartedly appreciate JLIVE for this opportunity. I hope the speech competition continues to expand and send all future participants the best of luck.


Category II Winner Ms. Kexin Ma


Kexin Ma


Having studied Japanese for two years at my college, I always thought it was a pity that I had never been to Japan, experienced its culture, or got to know its people. Thanks to the J.LIVE Talk, I had the opportunity to visit Japan and attend a wonderful program at Naganuma School in Tokyo for six weeks.

At the school, I made a lot of new friends from different parts of the world, who shared my interest in discovering Japan’s past and present. I also met a number of great teachers, who are passionate about their career and are dedicated to helping their students improve their language skills. What is more, the teachers do not simply teach the language by following instructions on the textbooks.

During the six-week training, our teachers assigned news and essays related to Japan’s culture, politics, and society for us to read, and showed us news program on TV, encouraging us to share our opinions on what we read and saw. I also had the opportunity to talk with Japanese students, and join in the school’s field trip to the National Diet Building, during which I participated in a mock committee meeting.

I really enjoyed the seminar-like teaching style and all the events I could participate in. They not only helped me obtain confidence in sharing my thoughts in Japanese, but also opened a window for me to get to know Japan and its people through my own eyes. Six weeks is not really a long period of time, but all the wonderful events in which I participated and the great people I met made this program one of the best experiences I have ever had. I sincerely hope that I will have another chance to go to Japan in order to learn more about the country, and I am looking forward to the reunion with all the great people I have met in these six weeks. 


Category I Winner Ms. Brigette Faula A. Labastida


Brigette Labastida in Nanzan University, Nagoya

Ms. Labastida in Nanzan University, Nagoya

Summer 2017 is a summer I will surely never forget. Not just my dream of going to Japan was fulfilled, but I was also able to learn so much from the country and its people in just a span of six weeks. Nanzan University’s “Summer Intensive Japanese Program” really speaks for itself, challenging students to strive hard in learning the Japanese language in a short amount of time.

Aside from the mandatory language classes, students were able to explore the culture more through electives such as politics, culture and art classes. I personally had the chance to learn woodblock painting and the art of tea ceremony. The Center for Japanese Studies (CJS) staff, the professors and the Japanese students were very helpful and made studying more enjoyable. Student teachers were always ready to welcome us in the Japan Plaza, whether we need help with our homework or we just want to come over and hang out. The Japanese roommates also helped us in our daily lives, telling us the tips and tricks around the area. There were also regular field trips and activities arranged by the University as part of the students’ cultural experience in Nagoya. Once a month, Japanese students and internationals get to interact during coffee hour.

Out of the several trips included a day trip to Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO natural heritage in Gifu Prefecture, and a chance to see sumo live. Last but not the least I was able to form friendship that will last forever during my time in Nagoya. Despite the short amount of time we international students spent at Nanzan University, we were able to make so much memories, whether it be in the classroom setting or going around Japan to explore.

My most memorable moment during this study abroad experience was going to Kyoto with my roommates and several other friends and climbing the Fushimi-Inari Shrine. It’s famous for its thousand gates or torii, which lined the trail all the way up the mountain. Hiking together all the way to the top really strengthened my bond with my friends and is definitely something we all will never forget ever.

The J.LIVE experience, from the application period to the competition until the end of my study abroad, was amazing. It just not enabled me to take away learnings from it but also bonds that I know I can keep for a life time.