Senior finds success at International Speech Competition

Class of 2018 graduate Jessica Yoon had an eventful end to her school year, and an even more exciting summer. She placed in the top quarter of the 23rd International Speech Competition in Japan.

Yoon, who grew up speaking English and Korean, started taking Japanese classes at GBS as a sophomore. She would describe herself as “still learning the language” – but she isn’t afraid of a challenge.

This past May, Yoon delivered a speech on robotics at the National Speech Competition in Los Angeles. She was only allowed to speak in Japanese. To her surprise, she placed first and was then invited to travel to Japan. 

“The competition was tough in California,” Yoon said. “I presented in front of 800 audience members.”

Yoon, who will be attending the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign to study engineering this fall, chose robotics as her speech topic because she enjoys problem-solving. She was involved in Project Lead the Way classes at GBS, as well as the Society of Women Engineers.

The competition in Japan was held in late July, and Yoon was the only one representing the United States. There were 17 competitors from all around the world. 

“The coolest part was seeing all the people from other countries only speaking in Japanese to communicate,” Yoon said. 

Danita Fitch, instructional supervisor of the GBS World Languages department, said the entire department is “so proud of Jessica for her dedication and excellent performance.”

“It was also wonderful to see all of the students bond together through their love of studying the Japanese language and culture,” Fitch said.

Yoon ended up taking home the Yawatahama Mayor’s Award. She visited the high school in Yawatahama to get to know the students and their robotics program.

Looking ahead to college, Yoon said she hopes to continue her passion of finding problems to solve. 

“I will also continue to study Japanese on my own,” she said. 
Senior finds success at International Speech Competition