“In the end, culture cannot be defined by one word. It is not skin color or nationality, but something you have to discover for yourself.” Such words are powerful — but even more so when delivered in a language that is not one’s native tongue.
Those two sentences sum up Baylor senior Rachel McCutchen’s speech on cultural identity and its meaning, delivered not in English but in Japanese. Based on the content, delivery and pronunciation of the speech, McCutchen become the first Baylor student ever to win the Dallas Regional Japanese Language Speech Contest, then a month later claimed second place at the Texas State Japanese Speech Contest.
The honor is all the more impressive considering McCutchen — a professional writing major and Asian studies minor from Houston — is in just her third year of studying Japanese. She spent three weeks preparing and practicing her speech with the help of Baylor professor (and Tokyo native) Yuko Prefume, BA ’04, MSED ’06 (pictured with McCutchen at right). After the state competition, the Baylor contingency was invited to the Japanese Consul General’s reception, where McCutchen had the opportunity to meet with the Consul General and his wife.
Sic ’em, Rachel!