Accolades for our young language learners

Published: 15 Sep 2021

On Tuesday evening (September 14), Mayor Greg Williamson presented high school student Jessica Dorl with the 2021 Mackay-Matsuura Sister Cities Senior Speech Contest trophy.

Jessica, a year 12 student from Holy Spirit College Mackay, received the major prize for her outstanding speech delivered in Japanese.

Other winning students – including Primrose Sands, Katie and Casey Wood from St Patrick’s College; Charlotte Riley and Ruby Smith from Holy Spirit College Mackay; and Sofia Teylan from Mackay North State High School – were also awarded cash prizes for their entries in the annual event organised by Mackay Regional Council’s Sister Cities Mackay group.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the contest began several years ago as a live event for the visiting citizens of Matsuura, Mackay’s sister city in southwest Japan, to judge the spoken language skills of local high school students.

“The speech contest has served as an excellent opportunity to promote Japanese language learning and support our long-standing friendship with our sister city,” Mayor Williamson said.

“With current travel restrictions, the speech contest has been shared with Matsuura judges via video entries. This has allowed us to keep the sister city friendship active and has continued to encourage students’ interest in learning and communicating in another language,” he said.

“The switch to video has also allowed for Mackay and Matsuura to share the experience via social media.

“The Sister Cities Mackay Facebook page is an informal way to keep in touch with our many supporters of the Sister Cities program, both here in Mackay as well as in Japan,” Mayor Williamson said.

Matsuura has been Mackay’s sister city for 32 years, with both local governments facilitating cultural visits for adults and students. Initiated for trade purposes in 1989, the sister city relationship has grown into a cultural exchange opportunity across generations of Mackay locals.