On April 14 the Japan Center at Stony Brook (JCSB) held its 14th Annual Essay Competition Award Ceremony at the Charles B. Wang Center. Dr. Eriko Sato, Chair of the JCSB Executive Committee, delivered the opening remarks and introduced distinguished guests: Distinguished Professor Iwao Ojima, JCSB President; Kevin Ogawa, President and COO of Canon, USA; and Masaru Sato, Deputy Consul General of Japan in New York.
From more than 250 essays submitted, the six best were selected by a committee of judges headed by chief judge, Professor Sachiko Murata, to receive cash awards ranging from a First Place Award of $3,000 to two Special Awards of $500 each. Additionally, each winner received a Canon EOS or Powershot from Canon USA, a major sponsor of the event. Copies of each of the winning essays can be found on the Japan Center’s website.
Keika Berger, a senior at Kings Park High School, received the First Place Best Essay Award in the High School Division of the competition. She was presented with a $3,000 check, an award certificate and a Canon camera at the award ceremony. In her award-winning essay, “The Religion Embedded in Japanese Culture,” Keika focuses on the difficulty that she experienced during her formative years in teaching her American white Christian friends about her Japanese cultural heritage imbued with Buddhist and Shinto beliefs. As a young child she was defensive when her friends were unaccepting of her Japanese culture. But as she matured, Keika realized that educating her friends about her beliefs was the best way to help them understand her culture. Now that she has matured into a young woman, she accepts the privilege that she has been given through the teachings of her parents to be accepting of the differences between all faiths and cultures.
In an interview after the ceremony, Keika revealed that she will be entering Stony Brook University as a freshman in Fall 2019. At present her major is undeclared, but she envisions a future career “somewhere in the health sciences.” In addition to writing, Keiko has a passionate interest in music and a splendid alto voice. She belongs to the Kings Park High School Chamber Choir, which won the coveted Gold Medal with Distinction award from the New York State School Music Association several times since she has been a member. In her wilder moments, Keika unwinds by riding her dirt bike! We look forward to welcoming her to our student body.
Avni Garg, a freshman at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, received the Second Place Best Essay Award. She was presented with a $1,500 check, an award certificate and a Canon camera for her award-winning essay, “Sankoryo.” Maggi Liu, a junior at Stuyvesant High School, received the Third Place Best Essay Award and was presented with a $750 check, an award certificate and a Canon camera for her award-winning essay, “Life Lessons from Sushi.”
Congratulations to Keika and the other winners on their excellent writing skills and insightful essays exploring the effects of Japanese ideas and culture on their lives and on society as a whole.