About a month before the 2021 Texas State Japanese Language Contest, Dr. Yuko Prefume (BA ’04, MSED ’06, EDD ’15), a Japanese lecturer at Baylor, asked Matthew Ho, then junior, if he wanted to participate. the competition. A little hesitant at first, and not knowing much of what that would entail, Ho said yes.
That “yes” turned into a runner-up in the regional speech competition, which qualified him for the state. In mid-March, Ho competed in the State and placed first in the College / University division.
Originally from Irvine, California, Ho grew up in Japanese culture and enjoyed watching cartoons, playing games, and listening to Japanese music with his friends. In high school he started learning Japanese on a whim, but it was the classes at Baylor that really helped him understand the language. A graduate in biochemistry, he says he hopes to use Japanese in the future to better connect with patients as a doctor.
Ho’s prayer for the Texas State Japanese Speech Contest was personal and profound. Entitled “Cooking is Medicine of the Heart,” he focused on the ways cooking has helped him feel alive during difficult times. Sometimes life gets repetitive and monotonous, he said, and trying new recipes and doing something that doesn’t involve looking at a computer was great for his sanity.
“I take great pride in my composure and composure throughout my speech, and especially the question-and-answer session that followed,” Ho said. “I was so paranoid I would have slipped or gone that I had stage fright in the middle of the speech, but luckily that did not happen. The judges all asked me questions about the subjects I was passionate about, namely food, and I was able to elaborate each of their questions in a clear and detailed manner. I attribute 100% of that to Prefume-Sensei who guided me through the process. “
With guidance from Prefume, Ho was able to develop his presentation and speech skills.
“He is an exceptional student,” she says, “who takes every opportunity to enrich himself intellectually and personally.
When June 2021 arrived, Ho received a call from the Japanese Consulate General in Houston telling him that due to his performance in the 2021 Texas State Japanese Language Competition, he was nominated for the KAKEHASHI Project. A member of the Japanese Language Communication Cohort, Ho will travel to Japan early next year, participating in family estates, school exchanges, lectures and tours of cultural landmarks. Upon his return, he will create an “action plan” and document the experience, posting it on social media to spread Japanese culture.
And Matthew hasn’t finished competing! Next month, he is a finalist, along with fellow Baylor student Ben Smith, at the Japanese Learning Inspired Vision and Engagement (J.LIVE) conference.
Sic ’em, Matthew!