All day, I found myself wishing I was in middle school so I could participate in the geography bee. I don't know how it happened or what made me do it, but during my lunch break I walked up to my social studies teacher's classroom in the esteemed middle school wing and asked her if I could participate in the bee for middle school. She seemed genuinely surprised, and happy, I thought. But she did hesitate a bit. I told her that I really loved to learn about our earth, its rivers, mountains, all the human cultures thriving in it, and the things that happen naturally and are man-made. She was still not convinced but finally said, yes. I was ecstatic!
That next morning it felt really good. I was going to be in the school bee, as a participant and learn things I was really interested in. I was not nervous one bit, instead just very excited to be doing something I really loved. We had four written rounds two on the United States and two on the world. I did surprisingly well and placed in the top ten, beating some of the strong seventh and eighth graders. I lost in the oral round the next day, but won the attention of my teacher. More importantly, my interest was piqued. I came home and looked up the answers for the questions that I and other contestants lost on.
This was the beginning of my quest; my quest for learning about my country, neighboring countries, and, countries beyond. Wikipedia, geography.about.com, and Nationalgeographic.com became my friends for life. Atlases and almanacs became my favorite books. I placed second in my school the following year, but more importantly, I realized that I really loved geography and enjoyed the time I spent learning it.
I may have lost that first bee, but I won the world; a love for that world; love to explore that world one country, one mountain, one river, one landform at a time; and that is certainly the biggest win for yours truly!
Ashwin Veeramani is in sixth grade in Ohio.