Japanese Olympiad of Indiana at DePauw








The Julian atrium was awash with hardworking students Saturday. But instead of studying math, computers or biology, these students had something a little less scientific on their minds: Japan.The 170 students, who were from 16 high schools all over Indiana, competed in the Japanese Olympiad of Indiana. The JOI tests the students’ knowledge of Japanese culture, history and society said professor Hiroko Chiba, coordinator of the event. While these are all important elements, the primary focus is on Japanese language, testing students’ understanding of grammar and vocabulary as well as their knowledge of the two Japanese alphabets and the morphographic writing system known as kanji, in which characters have multiple readings that represent whole words.

Leah Taylor, a junior at Franklin Community High School in Franklin, Ind. has competed for two years.

“It takes a lot of commitment. We have after-school practices where we learn onomatopoeia, proverbs, sentence structure and the history of Japan,” Taylor said.

Students compete at three different levels depending on their level of study. But every level of study requires a lot of work: many students said they study hard and are dedicated to learning about Japanese culture.

Stephen Stafford, a junior at Franklin Community High School, has competed the last three years, but decided not to compete this year. He still came to support the three teams representing his high school. He says that nothing can compare to his love for Japanese culture, and he is planning on moving there after college.

According to the participants, there are three teams from each high school that compete, and each team consists of three students. The competition consists of a preliminary and a final round.

In each round, three teams compete against one another. During part one of the rounds, individual teams are presented with questions and are given 30 seconds to decide on an answer. Part two is a “lightning round.” Individual participants answer questions as quickly as possible, raising their hands when they know the correct answer. In part three, all the teams answer the same question, writing their answers down and displaying them at the end of the 30-second time limit.

Chiba said that the competition questions were written by professors from Indiana University, Ball State and Earlham University. The questions were then approved and combined to form the final competition questions that would be given to the students.

When students are not competing, they can either make origami dogs and sumo wrestlers, play guitar hero, watch Japanese pop singers on television, pay 50 cents for fresh ramen noodles or converse with other students in Japanese.

“This is a great opportunity to get to know high school students and their accomplishments,” Chiba said.

The students said coming to compete the JOI required a lot of training: they learned a lot from their teachers who helped prepare them with a variety of questions about Japanese culture. They come back each year, they said, because of their passion for Japanese culture and the thrill of competition.

Teams from Chesterton High School took first place for all three levels of the competition, according to the Chesterton Tribune Web site.

This was DePauw’s first time hosting the JOI.


































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Japanese Olympiad of Indiana at DePauw
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