2015.02.10
第8回全国高等学校英語スピーチコンテスト 4位入賞!!


 平成27年2月8日(日)、第8回全国高等学校英語スピーチコンテストが東京の国立オリンピック記念青少年総合センターにて行われました。この大会において、本校高校1年西森千紘さんが4位に入賞しました。
 
 西森さんは、“Breaking Down The Barriers”というタイトルで、障がい者の世界を体験し理解を深めるべきだと訴えました。地方大会を勝ち抜いた非常にハイレベルな高校1年から高校3年までの18人の生徒の中から、高校1年生で4位入賞は快挙です。英語の流暢さだけでなく、メッセージ性の高さが認められての受賞となりました。



Breaking Down The Barriers

NISHIMORI Chihiro
Tosajuku High School

 Saitama.  September 8th, 2014.  A blind high school student is walking along yellow Braille blocks.  She has come out of Kawagoe Station and is heading towards the bus stop on her way to a school for the blind and visually impaired.  Suddenly, someone kicks away her walking stick then she is violently kicked from behind.  The kick hits her right leg.  She is knocked to the ground.  Her injuries take 3 weeks to heal.  Surveillance cameras showed a man running away from the scene.
 
 Hearing about this incident, I was shocked.  I was sad.  I was confused.  Why would anyone do this kind of thing?  Why on earth would anyone want to kick a blind person?
 
 What kind of person would do that?
 
 Please close your eyes and imagine that you are blind.  You are relying on the Braille blocks and your hearing to continue to your destination.  Can you imagine how hard it would be?  Can you imagine how scary it would be?  Your walking stick is kicked away.  You hear the person move around behind you.  You feel the kick.  You are on the ground waiting for the next kick, waiting in fear.
 
 I find it difficult to really put myself in the situation because I always rely on my vision.  I have never been blind.  I have always taken my sight for granted.  How about you?
 
 One day my brother came home from school, looking very happy.  He had seen an elderly woman struggling to get up a set of stairs.  He found the courage to offer to help her.  He took her by the hand and slowly led her up the stairs.  She had thanked him warmly for his help.
 
 In the past, this may have been nothing special but these days, people have less interaction with others.  We are lucky enough to live with our grandparents so I think it was easier for my brother to help the elderly woman.  He has learned how to be considerate to the elderly as well as how to help and understand them.
 
 I think we can say the same thing about dealing with the disabled in general.  In order to understand them, we need time with them.  Unfortunately, our society now separates us.
 
 We have schools for “normal” kids and schools for “disabled” kids.  We scarcely have any contact with those who are different from us.  Without interaction, this problem will never be solved. 
 
 Sometimes schools for the disabled do interact with normal schools but usually it is to help the disabled students prepare themselves to enter society.  I think that we as normal students need the opposite training.  Normal kids need to learn how to accept those with difficulties into society.
 
 What I believe we also need is a chance to experience what it is like to be different. For example, we need to be blindfolded and experience how hard it is to get around without our vision.  We need to wear ear plugs to experience what it would be like to be deaf.  We need to spend time in wheel chairs to experience what that is like.
 
 At school, we learn math, English, science, music and PE.  Perhaps, what we also really need to learn is how to deal with and respect those who are different to us, whether they are blind, deaf, wheel chair bound, obese, old or mentally-handicapped.
 
 I really hope that incidents like the attack on that blind student in Saitama will become a thing of the past.  From now on, more and more disabled people will be active in our society, as workmates, as classmates at university, as politicians, as business leaders and so on.  We, as a society, need to have the maturity, the understanding and the acceptance to let that happen as smoothly as possible. 


(最前列右から2人目が西森千紘さん)