It was just two months ago, when I found out that my team in the World Scholars Cup was qualified to enter the final of this competition; the Tournament of Champions in Yale University, which also marks the end of this year’s season. So after many consideration, I think it’s best for me to write down my 2 weeks trip in the United States by dividing it into two posts due to the amount of experiences I’ve gained there. And I think it’s best if I start this series of posts with a notes about the Tournament of Champions itself.
Since the end of the Manila Global Round I had in September, my team tried our best to manage our time so that we could fit in a fair amount of practices within 2 months. Because after we committed to join the ToC (Tournament of Champions), we knew that the competition was not something to be taken lightly. It really came with full dedication as well as large enthusiasm to learn and be much better than we were before.
Therefore, as we got into a hotel near Yale University for re-registration, the atmosphere there feels heavy with the immense pressure everyone was feeling. Not to mention that my team joined the open division; which is the senior division mixed with some juniors team (including my team) that wasn’t able to get into the junior division because of the full quota. So we already prepared how things can be harder for us.
Nevertheless, I still had much fun being in there and really tried my best to enjoy the moment. Because after all, the World Scholars Cup is truly about celebrating every learning process I’ve been and will go through.
As usual, the main event in the opening day of WSC is Scavenger Hunt, where all of us were grouped randomly and assigned missions. I was in the Stone Bridge team with around 10 other scholars at that time. But the difference was in my team specifically, the mission was not even our main goal to accomplish anymore. At first I was not sure why it was like that. But now, I think it’s because of the correlation between the Scavenger Hunt with this year’s topic, which is: A World on a Margin.
If you observe the reality in this world, people would naturally go with others whom they share a similarity with. Whether that’s age, nationality, religion, and many others. While this is something that’s generally not wrong, it has created margins between groups of individuals which slowly becomes their comfort zone. This is why with the Scavenger Hunt, every scholars are required to go out from their comfort zone and fine this bond with people they probably didn’t expect.
So again, with the Scavenger Hunt, I was able to meet people from literally the other side of the world, people who are years older than me, and those who may have different interest with me. However with this unique and almost awkward process of getting to know each other, we develop this friendship which open my mind about acknowledging the differences of individuals around me. That kind of feeling is very wholesome for me and my scavenger team, until we just decided to go to the nearest cafe to hang out.
After that day of socializing with a bunch of people, me and my teammates soon prepared for the two main academic days. The first day consist of Scholars Challenge, Debate, and Collaborative Writing, and the second day consist of the Scholars Bowl. While most of the competitions were basically similar, the debate was something my team payed most attention to.
The teams we debated against with were from India, Indonesia, and China, with the motions: (1) That students should be randomly assigned to universities – negative team, (2) That a sentient robot should have the same rights as a human – affirmative team, and (3) That societies’ progress faster when people are more sympathetic. As what the WSC youtubers and famous WSC scholars has said, even when the motion’s level of difficulty stays the same, the opponents would be much tougher. I’m sure that the teams who became my opponents has practiced a lot for it, as my team did as well. And some of them even went to the Tournament of Champions multiple times already.
That’s why at the time, I was very determined to believe in myself like my family and friends do to me. Weeks before the day came, people around me kept saying all of these motivating words. They believe in me, and sure that I can do my best. From there I then realized, if people trust and believe in me, then surely I’m able to trust and believe in myself more than anyone can.
This is the reminder that has keep me going until my team successfully won two out of three debates we had. The key to that outcome was always the same; no matter what you want to talk about in your debate speech, the important thing was to understand and believe on what you want to say. In my opinion, believing in my arguments is equally, or even slightly more important than giving a lot of examples to back it up. Because at the end, it will help so much in convincing the adjudicator.
Back to the other competitions, I can say that it went better than the Manila Global Round. In my perspective, all of the times I spent for preparation really did help and feels worth it once I finished with all of the competitions. So even when I didn’t know yet about my outcomes, I felt like I experienced and learned a lot from this program only, that it didn’t matter so much anymore about the amount of medal I achieve.
Now that the competition days has ended, we had this activity called Student Panel where we can understand about the experience of being a student in Yale University from the first point perspective of their students themselves. It was really interesting to listen to the three Yale students volunteer about their personal stories of getting into the university and the reasons why they chose Yale University.
Honestly, I was amazed at their stories. A thing I noted during that panel was about how they manage to use their hobby, and correlate it with the major they chose. As an example, one of them is really interested in baking. With that hobby, she then fell in love with learning how biochemistry can be applied in baking, and make that as one of the reason why she chose biochemistry major. So the next thing I knew, I vividly imagined about the possibilities of me being a student there. I do acknowledge that it may sound somewhat impossible. But now at least I have one main goal that will always push me to do more.
Following some other social events like Scholars Ball and Cultural Fair, the only thing left in the WSC schedule was the Closing Ceremony. With the hopes and wishes that were still left, my team was so surprised that we managed to get more medals than we expected. For the team awards, we got Team Bowl, Team Debate, Junior Team Debate (8th place), Team Writing, and Junior Team Writing. While for the individual awards, I got Debate Champion and Writing Champion.
Needless to say, surprised is an understatement if I try to describe my family emotions about it. My memories head back to when me and my parents had this discussion before the Global Round. The three of us talked about how it would be a dream if I can be qualified to the Tournament of Champions, since people say that it is extremely hard to accomplish.
That was before I found out how time can fool us. Because the next thing I know, I was in the United States for the Tournament of Champions. Participated in the program tons of people want to experience.
Therefore, I would not be tired in saying thank you to my parents and teachers who always believe in me, to my friends who always be there for me, and everyone that has supported me through this World Scholars Cup journey I went through.
Soon after this, I will write another post about my trip in the United States outside of WSC. So be sure to stay tune!