JFTC Essay Competition

Words from Winners of JFTC Essay Competition 2011

I am so honoured to have received the grand prize in this contest and hope that I will be able to inspire other people to do the things they think they cannot do. I am from Jamaica, a small island developing state of about 2.7 million people so if I could win this international contest, anyone who puts their mind to achieving their dreams can. Once you put in the necessary work, it doesn't hurt to try. Going to Japan to accept the award was also a great experience. The people were very kind and helpful and I hope that I will get an opportunity to visit again.

What made me apply for JFTC Essay Competition
When I first saw the topic, I was not sure if I could enter because I thought I did not know enough about Japan. However, when I looked at the question again, I realized that even though the essay was about Japan, there were several elements that had global applications. The topic appealed to me because I was personally affected when I saw the extensive media coverage of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. I was reminded of just how fragile life is and found it hard to go on as normal when there were people suffering. I wanted to do something to help and so I saw the essay as a way of making some kind of small contribution to the recovery effort.

My strategy was to write from my heart first and then to research after. After writing from the personal perspective, I started researching the more technical aspects of the essay question. Doing the research for this essay was a fulfilling intellectual exercise as I was able to gather so much information about Japan, a country I was not previously familiar with. The more information I found, the easier it became to understand Japanese society, culture and people. I then found areas of common ground that I could relate to and drew from personal experiences to ensure that my own voice was not drowned out by technical jargon. Once my research was complete, I was able to merge the personal, emotional and technical aspects of the topic into one coherent piece.

Nicole Brown (Jamaica)

I will be forever grateful to the Japan Foreign Trade Council for choosing my essay for the Prize of Excellence. It feels good to know that the time I spent in writing my essay was all worth it as it had won me a free trip to Tokyo, a cash prize, and a high-profile awarding ceremony. It regains my confidence to articulate my thoughts about significant issues like Japan's recovery path. I have also learned so many lessons from Japan's development experience that are highly applicable in my own country, the Philippines. Moreover, I'm positive that this award could open more opportunities for me in the future. I just wish that this competition would continue to inspire everyone, both Japanese and foreigners, young and old, to share their ideas and make a difference in their own little ways.

What made me apply for JFTC Essay Competition
When I first saw the announcement of the essay competition, the very timely essay theme - Vision for a New Japan after 3.11 - caught my attention. At that time, I just started my internship at the Asia-Europe Small and Medium Enterprises Eco-Innovation Center (ASEIC), an organization that aims to promote eco-innovation for SMEs. Some of the ideas I proposed in my essay – the vision of an Entrepreneurial and Green Japan – were actually inspired by the advocacies of ASEIC. Moreover, I have been very optimistic over Japan's future after seeing the coverage of the Japanese tsunami last year, where I was more than impressed on how the Japanese people showed remarkable strength and composure amid the ruins. Their profound sense of tragedy is already a good sign of hope; their unbelievable resilience serves as a lesson to the rest of the world.

Chiden Balmes (Philippines)