by Travis Haese | staff writier

Winners Mell Perez(left) and Hayley Nelson(right)

Two Johnson Jags competed in the 22nd Regional Japanese Competition and put the campus on the map with another state winner.. Junior Mell Perez got first in the free speech division and sophomore Hayley Nelson got first in the short poem division. These two wins have been the first in NEISD history for Japanese competitions.  Nelson went on to claim first at state in her category.

“I have done self study for a year before taking Japanese at school,” Perez said. “But I have studied for a total of four years.”

“I’m in my second year in studying Japanese so really not that much time,” Nelson said. “I have tried teaching myself before but that did not work out well.”

Some students would ask ‘Why Japanese?’ These two girls have been very interested in Japanese and wanted to take a different approach than other students.

“Because it’s not Spanish!” Nelson said. “Also I am very interested in Japanese culture so why not learn the language?”

“I took Japanese because I used to live in Hawaii,” Perez said. “Hawaii is different because instead of having a sign in English and in Spanish, the signs over there are in English and then in Japanese.”

Two San Antonio girls is not something you would see every day in a Japanese competition. The girls have really put a lot of time and effort into becoming regional and state champions.

“You could tell that a lot of the kids didn’t want to be at the competition,” Nelson said. “Just by the way they were speaking you could tell that there wasn’t a lot of emotion.”

“When I got up to speak I spoke with my heart,” Perez said. “You have to really want it and have that emotion and passion for it.”

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