Conor McDavid is fascinated by Japan. That’s why he took the Japanese language program when he started Grade 9 at Lindsay Thurber high school four years ago. It turns out he is so good at Japanese he will represent Canada in Tokyo this July at the 18th Annual Japanese Speech Competition. And now that he is graduating high school here, he is planning to spend the next school year in Japan on an exchange program.
“I’ve always loved Japanese. The teachers are great, the friends are great, the language is difficult, especially the writing, but I enjoy it a lot.”
At first he didn’t want to enter a Japanese speech contest in Edmonton, but his teacher talked him into going, and he came in first. Then he found out he was chosen to travel to Japan and would be representing Canada against a score of other countries. “What! I wasn’t expecting that,” said McDavid. “I’m kind of nervous to go and speak. But I’m excited. And I will do my best.”
His accommodations and meals in Japan are covered but McDavid still has to raise the $1,700 for his airfare. So now he’s looking for donations for that and is actively fundraising. “I’ve created a newsletter that describes my involvement with Japanese and I’m going from place to place trying my best to get businesses to support me. Some already have, like Tom Bast Sports, and I’ve got donations from several teachers too.”
He added, “Japan is so different. The writing looks so cool, the people are so cool. I fell in love with the differences, especially the cultural differences. (On the trip) I’ll do more than I actually thought for two weeks. We get to do some cooking, we do some cultural exercises, go to a festival, then we get to go to middle school and talk to the kids.”
LTCHS Principal Jim Clevette said he is proud of McDavid.
“Conor is a real credit to the international languages program at Lindsay Thurber and to the international languages program at Red Deer Public. We bring in international students, organize international trips and put on exchanges that show how well Red Deer Public and Lindsay Thurber go out to meet the world.”
It’s no surprise that McDavid’s future plans include university studies in East Asian languages and culture with the hope of joining Canada’s foreign service so he could live and work in Japan someday.