Northside Students Dominate Japan Bowl...Again!
By Noah Liedtke
On March 16, a number of Northside’s Japanese students students competed in the annual Japan Bowl. The Japan Bowl is a competition for high school students studying the language, which asks competitors a number of questions in the language about Japan’s history, culture, economy, politics, pop culture, daily life, and more. The are four levels of competition, with the first level acting more as practice for beginning students, and levels two, three, and four are for Japanese two, three, and four students, respectively.
Approximately 200-300 students competed in the Japan Bowl, with Northside’s teams competing at every level. Students volunteer for the competition, and it means spending time before and after school studying in preparation for the event. Park Jeung-Hee Sensei, World Language Department, takes pride in the creation and preparation of these teams.
At the event, students in teams of three competed in a quiz-bowl-like competition, where the best teams are awarded at the end of the competition. While the competition was fierce, it wasn’t the only thing on people’s minds. The lunch provided, consisting of bento and katsu, was a hit with the competitors. Trish Le, Adv. 003, said “Not only do you get to study and compete, but you get to enjoy the food too! It’s not all about studying.”
Northside took home a lot of awards this year, securing second place in level two, level three, and level four. In addition, one level four team, consisting of Hans Chung, Adv. 902, Helen Huynh, Adv. 909, and John Tang, Adv. 906, took first place. Winning first place in level four means that they are eligible to compete in Nationals, which took place on April 11 in Washington D.C. If they win there, they win a free trip to Japan. This would not be the first time Northsiders won it all, as Park Sensei recalls going to Japan with her students two years ago as well.
When asked about his involvement in studying Japanese, Tang said it was a “funny story: my first language choice freshman year was Spanish I. It was the easier and mainstream option. But I was given Japanese I, and ever since, I've gained such an interest to continue my studies. My first experience with competing was at mini japan bowl during my sophomore year, which was only between a couple of high schools and more just for practice and fun. The first time I competed at states was junior year. My team was the same, Helen Huynh, Hans Chung, and I. We competed at level 3 and won 1st place. This year, we competed at level 4, and won 1st again. I choose to participate because I find many aspects of Japan interesting. Outside of the language is a unique culture, history, and society.”
The national team has continued to study hard for their next competition, but so have the rest of Northside’s Japanese students. Park Sensei said that “daily learning is important for this kind of competition, and it helps with learning confidence, learning something different, meeting people in different communities that they can communicate with, and gain job opportunities.” Park Sensei firmly believes in the quote she posted on the Japanese room door “To have a second language is to have a second soul,” and that is true for every student of the language.