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Japanese language learners gain new skills, insights

By Suzanna Goussous - Apr 13,2016 - Last updated at Apr 13,2016

A contestant delivers a speech at the Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest at the University of Jordan, on Wednesday (Photo by Suzanna Goussous)

AMMAN — Around 12 participants took part on Wednesday in the 19th annual Japanese Language Speech Contest, which was organised to “bring the two countries closer” and strengthen cultural relations. 

The event, organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in cooperation with the Japanese embassy in Amman and the University of Jordan (UJ), aimed at sharing similar aspects of Jordanian and Japanese cultures, according to organisers.

Held at the UJ's Language Centre, the ceremony gave Jordanians interested in the Japanese language the opportunity to show their skills and present ideas. 

Shuichi Sakurai, the Japanese ambassador to Jordan, voiced hope that students' learning the language would lead to mutual cooperation between both countries.

“The Japanese language is very difficult to learn, especially for foreigners. It is very useful to know Japanese… I am very happy to hear that many young Jordanian men and women are studying Japanese,” he told The Jordan Times.

Sakurai added that learning Japanese widens one’s understanding of the culture, history and traditions of the country.

JICA Senior Representative Wakui Junji said that since 1993, JICA has engaged more than 20 volunteers in initiatives to support students who wish to learn the Japanese language.

UJ interim President Azmi Mahafza said the “fruit” of the mutual cooperation between Jordan and Japan is the Japanese language education programme that is being taught at the university.

Participant Reem Elkhalik, who is a teacher assistant at the American University of Madaba’s faculty of architecture and design, said her interest in Japanese culture started when she was in school.

“I have always viewed Japanese culture from more than one perspective. When I started studying architecture, it enriched my perception of that culture, I focused more on the architectural style of buildings,” she told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the event.

Elkhalik added: “Language brings nations closer. It opens more horizons, every time we learn something new we gain a different perspective.”

Kawthar Zou’bi, another contestant who is currently working at the Ministry of Justice, said one can only get more familiar with a culture through learning the origin of its language.

Through her 18-month course of learning the Japanese language, Zou’bi said she became “more open to new ideas and cultures” and started accepting people of different cultures.

A jury evaluated the presentations of participants, consisting of the president of the Japanese Society in Jordan, Ota Ichiro; programme officer at the UNDP, Manome Minako; and several JICA members.


The winner of the best Japanese speech was Yemeni contestant Maha Mayoub, and the best presentation award was given to Leen Kilani.

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