In a North American
showdown, three Mexican teenagers bested finalists from neighboring Canada and the United States to clutch the
National Geographic World Championship title earlier this month.
Moderated by Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek at Sea World,
San Diego, teams of elite geography students, top performers in their own geography competitions from 17 regions endured two
days of written exams and head-to-head competition to determine the top three
contenders. After making their first ever appearance in the final round, Mexico went on to unseat five-time champion the United States,
becoming the first non-English speaking team to win in eight years of
tournament history. The young men’s expressions of excitement required no
translation: “To win gold, it’s really great” beamed 15-year-old Emanuel
Johansen Campos of Tejalpa, Mexico. “I
don’t have any words.”
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi courtesy of abcnews.com
Johansen’s champion teammates were Captain
Angel Aliseda of Guadaljara, 16, and Carlos Franco Ruiz, 14, of Zapotlan de Juarez. The group correctly
identified Abu Simbel, an ancient Egyptian archaeological site carved from
sandstone ca. 1200 B.C., to finally come out on top. The team prevailed over a third-place Canadian group of Marky Freeman, 14, Maxim Ralchenko, 13, and
Jonathan Whyte, 13, all from Ontario. A trio of
15 year-olds from the United States
captured the silver medal: Kelsey
Schilperoort of Prescott HS ( Prescott, AZ), Neeraj Sirdeskmukh of Nashua HS (Nashua, NH) and Matthew Vengali of Grosse Pointe
North HS (Grosse Point Shores, MI).
The standings fell as if in
defiance of a 2002 Roper Poll
that placed the three nations among the bottom third in a pool of nine
countries surveyed on geographic literacy. This time around, the rankings were
literally turned upside down as the ninth, eighth, and seventh countries in the
2002 study finished first, second, and third overall at the 2007 World Championships.
The results give credence to convictions held by My Wonderful World.org: That
determined students have extraordinary potential for success, and that it is essential
to bring global knowledge–and the opportunities that come along with it—to
each and every young learner.
Our congratulations go out to
all participants for their impressive accomplishments. We hope their success will
inspire others to care about the planet and support the cause for geography
To read more about the
World Championships, check out the following news articles from SignOnSanDiego.com, National Geographic Commuications, and ABCnews. And be sure not to miss these stories from the International Herald Tribune and Australia’s Herald Sun for international coverage of the event.
To learn more about the
U.S. National Geographic Bee and enter for a chance to compete in the
International World Championship event, visit the National Geographic Bee homepage.
Sarah for My Wonderful World