UAE students recently travelled to Sydney and Manila to compete in the World Scholar’s Cup, bringing home a host of gold and silver medals
What is the World Scholar’s Cup?
The WSC is an international team academic programme with students participating from over 82 countries. Founded by Daniel Berdichevsky, the first Cup took place in Korea in 2007 as a small regional tournament. The first global round followed a few weeks later, bringing together students from Korea, Singapore and the United States. The idea behind the WSC was to create something beyond traditional academic competitions. As WSC participants, students explore different curricular aspects of a global theme (this year’s theme was ‘a world on the margins’). Students participate in debates, discussions, quiz bowls and other academic challenges on subjects including science, technology, history, social studies, literature and film, the arts and current affairs.
Toshith Bhaumik, a Year 9 student at The Winchester School – Jebel Ali (WIN), travelled to Sydney to compete in the WSC Global Round
“My first experience of the World Scholar’s Cup was in 2016 at the Dubai Primary Round. Being ranked eighth as a scholar in Dubai was a proud moment. What fascinated me to take part in the WSC was the learning experience I would receive, beyond the standard curriculum that I know. The event includes all the key skills that are crucial to evolving young minds. From debating to writing to various subject quizzes, coupled with talent shows, the Cup creates an enriching experience. Collaboration is the key, with the event based on team effort, as well as individual strengths. I won a total of 11 medals – 10 gold and one silver – across the various events; my best being ranked 25th out of more than 1,200 junior scholars in the individual debater category. Also, some of my highlight accolades were the overall scholar ranking of 41 and the writing individual ranking of 60. Another significant high for me was the great opportunity to travel to an amazing country like Australia and to experience the wonderful city of Sydney. I am really excited about taking part in the prestigious Tournament of Champions at Yale University in the US in November. My goal for this event is to break into the top 30 scholars.”
Three teams of students from GEMS International School Al Khail (GIS) competed in the WSC Global Round in Manila
1. Team 350 competed in the junior division and consisted of Youssef Farag, Yuheng Yang, and Nourhan Ibrahim.
The team placed 67 out of nearly 300 teams in the debate competition and was awarded a silver medal for placing 70th overall across all challenges. Youssef won a gold medal for placing 38th out of nearly 900 students in the science category and Yuheng won a gold medal for an outstanding performance in the writing competition. Nourhan was the top junior scholar from GIS, earning a silver medal for placing 75th out of nearly 900 students across all challenges. She was also awarded a gold medal for placing 24th in the history category.
“I was overjoyed with the results of my most recent involvement in the World Scholar’s Cup. I performed extremely well considering that it was my first ever Global Round and my first year competing in the Cup competition. I received nine medals in total; seven of which were gold and two of which were silver. I actually performed better in the Global Round than I did in the Regional Round. It was slightly intimidating having to debate against some of the best debaters from all over the world; however, I learned new debating techniques from my opponents and received pointers on how I can better myself as a debater. I made lifelong memories and new friends from all over the world. I even watched a world-renowned poet perform live slam poetry and got the opportunity to ask him questions. It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait for the next season.”
– Nourhan Ibrahim, Grade 9
2. Team 588 competed in the senior division and consisted of Taleen Alnaser, Zoya Kherani and Sarah Attyani.
As a team, they won a gold medal by placing 35th out of nearly 200 teams in the writing competition. Taleen won two silver medals for writing and debate and Zoya won two silver medals for arts and writing. Sarah was the top performer, earning two gold medals and placing 20th out of nearly 600 students in the social studies category.
“On a typical day of the competition, we would wake up early in the morning to either discover the beautiful city of Manila or head to the Newport Theatre for a long day of competition. We would meet people from all over the world. These students taught us so many new things: from different approaches to a debate motion, to the different types of food in their home country. In the evening, we would explore the local area. This was a time for both the junior and the senior teams to talk about their day, detailing the things they had learned, the people they had met and whether or not they felt successful that day. A big part of the World Scholar’s Cup curriculum is studying things that you wouldn’t normally learn in school. Due to this, our preparation was filled with learning new things and sometimes it was difficult to manage so much information, but it’s definitely a skill we have developed after studying for both the regional and global rounds.”
– Taleen Alnaser, Grade 10
“The best part of the whole experience was being on a global stage, meeting new people from different backgrounds and getting to work with students from around the world. Apart from the competition challenges, the most strenuous part was dealing with the anxiety and nervousness that engulfed me when I was debating. Personally, I feel that debating is the hardest part of the competition because it really challenges your critical thinking skills and you have to make sensible arguments to get your point across in a tense environment. My next goal is to compete in the Tournament of Champions at Yale University. This will be a great opportunity for me to visit one of the most prestigious universities in the world. My goal for the tournament is to try my best and enjoy the experience. I think the experience matters because I’ll be at a historic institution and I’m hoping that it will inspire me to apply and study law once I complete the IB Diploma Programme at GIS.”
– Zoya Kherani, Grade 10
3. Team 589 competed in the senior division and consisted of Rushil Raja, Yassin Ahmed and Hania Ibrahim.
As a team, they won a gold medal for placing 12th in the team writing competition and 37th in the team debate. Nearly 200 teams competed in each challenge so this is an amazing achievement. Rushil won a gold medal for his performance in the debate competition and Yassin earned a gold medal for placing 68th out of nearly 600 students in the writing contest. Hania was the top senior scholar from GIS, earning a gold trophy for placing 10th in the writing competition and gaining a silver medal for placing 68th out of nearly 600 students across all challenges.
“The competition was very enjoyable; I loved working with my team and debating the topics, but the most enjoyable part was the collaborative writing event. I thoroughly enjoyed the social elements of the trip. I met many amazing people and made great friends in the process. Balancing schoolwork and preparing for the competition was definitely a challenge. It was especially difficult for me because I was not only competing, but also leading the after-school activity as a mentor. I found that preparing little by little alongside school work, from the moment the topics were announced, was effective and drastically decreased stress and workload.”
– Hania Ibrahim, Grade 11
All in all, the competition was a resounding success for the GIS students. They were diligent in their preparations during the summer holiday and their hard work paid off: each of the three teams earned their place at the Tournament of Champions to be held at Yale University in the US from 8-13 November. This is truly a remarkable achievement, as many of the students had never participated in the WSC before. The students were positive and open-minded throughout the competition; they made friends with students from around the world and celebrated unique cultures and experiences.