June 2019 \ Business & Investment \ BUSINESS AND GOVERNANCE
7 Indian-origin kids are US Spelling Bee co-champions

Seven Indian-origin kids, along with an American ...

By Arul Louis

The national level contest held in a Washington suburb is broadcast nationally on the sports channel ESPN, giving it the aura of a major sports event and a big audience. The contest is sponsored by the media company, EW Scripps.

The Spelling Bee opens in school and the winners go on to contests at the next levels and those champions go to the national competition, along with some who meet other criterion for selection. The Spelling Bee is open to students in eighth grade and below. In addition to children from all the 50 US states, students also participate from the Bahamas, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea. The 94-year-old contest has evolved to be a test of not just memorisation but also of a broad understanding of linguistics and etymology such as the origin of words and how words from classical languages are transmuted into English and how words are borrowed between modern languages.

Since Balu Natarajan won the Spelling Bee in 1985, Indian-origin children have been winners in 19 years, continuously for ten years from 2008 to 2018. Indian-origin children do well in the Spelling Bee because the Indian community prizes participation in it and several community groups and businesses organise competitions for children within the community.

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