BUSAN, South Korea — Hi! My name is Rishi Srinivasan and I am a seventh grader at the Busan International Foreign School (BIFS). I was born in Houston, Texas and completed my elementary school in nearby Katy, Texas and I am currently in Ulsan, South Korea, where I have studied since June, 2011. I love it here!
This year was a special one for me because I won the Korean National Spelling Bee, so the editor of Haps asked me to share my experience about how I did it.
I have always been an avid reader since a very young age. I was reading chapter books like Magic Tree House when I was five-years-old. Seeing my interest in books, my mother got me my very own library card at the public library! Reading is an important part of learning and my parents encouraged me to read both fiction and non-fiction books. Reading a lot has helped me score high in spelling consistently in school.
I first started participating in spelling competitions when I was in the fourth grade, back in Houston. I scored the highest in my class spelling test and was chosen for the school spelling competition. I remember at the start of the bee I was really nervous! I began to relax after the first couple of rounds. We were soon down to five people and I was happy that I had gotten this far. By the time we were down to three people, I was eliminated as I misspelled the word ‘fallacy’. I spelled it ‘falacy’.
I really wanted to win the following year, so when the next bee came around, I studied extra hard for it. I ended up winning the school-wide spelling bee in fifth grade! I now represented my school at the district-level competition. Two representatives were chosen in my school district from Katy ISD, and I placed second. So I was chosen to participate at the regional level spelling bee to be telecast on TV by Houston PBS. I was very excited, but also very nervous as I had never been on TV before!
If I won the regional spelling bee, I would be going to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC! There were about 45 people in the regional bee and I was number 13. This was a tough competition. Unfortunately, I lost this spelling bee after misspelling the word tenement. Bad luck again! Going to Washington, DC remained a dream.
It was about two months into the school year in sixth grade at BIFS when I found out we were participating in a spelling bee in Gwangju! I was really excited and I volunteered to go. We had to pass a written test first. I ended up winning and was chosen to represent BIFS at the SKAC spelling bee in Gwangju. I won that spelling bee and was excited to receive a medal and a certificate for my efforts.
Soon, my parents found out that there was a Scripps National Spelling Bee in Korea as well. My mom asked the school if they would let me participate and they said yes! Yay, BIFS! I studied hard and when we went to Seoul, I felt confident in my chances. But, once again, luck was not on my side! Preparing for a spelling bee is not easy as it is impossible to memorize the entire dictionary! Anyone interested in participating in a spelling bee must reading many, many words, look for patterns, learn the rules of the languages. Personally, I find words of French origin the most difficult!
This year also I went to Gwangju and won the spelling bee again. Our school also had in-house spelling tests and I scored the highest. It was time to go to Seoul again to participate in the Scripps Korean National Spelling Bee. This time, I studied a lot harder. There were 76 students participating from all over Korea. I saw that American national spelling bee announcer Dr. Jacques Bailly was there! I was so thrilled to meet him!
Finally, after years of effort, I won the spelling bee this year in Seoul. My winning word was imbroglio. I received a beautiful trophy which I will cherish forever. Next stop is Washington, DC where I will represent South Korea year in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May!
I am really excited. Wish me luck!