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April 9, 2013 > Pan Asian Spelling Bee

Pan Asian Spelling Bee

Submitted By Rakhi Sharma
Photos By Mahitha Rao and World Journal

On March 2, a nippy Saturday morning, the Mission Ballroom of the Santa Clara Convention Center was buzzing with activity; young men and women of Indian and Chinese origin were setting up tables. The atmosphere was festive with red and yellow McDonald's balloons filling the hallway and the room inside. A "beeline" of parents with their children queued at the registration desk to check in for the wild card raffle, and others for the semi-finals of the nation's first-ever Pan Asian Spelling Bee.

"There is so much cultural diversity in the Bay Area. We have the Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani, and Fijian communities. Yet, we are all bound together by the fact that our future is American. It only made sense to bring together the children from these communities on a common platform; this is just the first step in that direction," said Mahima of Mahima Creations. Representative of the World Journal, Mr. Peter Ho echoed the same sentiment adding, "We are thrilled by the response of the Indian community to this event; we had more than 400 children register."

The air was filled with the buzz of little spelling bees - five-year-olds and first graders through eighth graders. Aptly named "Big, Bigger and Biggest," the children competed in three different categories based on age.

Ten semi-finalists were named in each category. The finals round was a nail-biter all the way to the finish. "In some categories, we went through 10 rounds of tie-breaker questions, and these children made all of us work, including the organizing committee, the word committee and even the judges. The children in the "Biggest" age category were so advanced in terms of their vocabulary that they even got college level words right," stated Kavita S of Mahima Creations.

At an awards ceremony, Honorable Consul General of India, Mr. N. Parthasarathi, Honorable San Jose City Councilman Mr. Ash Kalra and HonorableTrade Advisor to the Obama administration and Ohlone College Trustee Ms. Teresa Cox spoke words of encouragement for the children and distributed awards to the winners. The panel of judges included educators and literary elite from the Asian communities: Ms. Jaya Padmanabhan, Managing Editor of India Currents; Ms. Ayse Kaya, co-founder/Director of Mission Hills Middle School; Ms. Irene Fu, an educator with over 20 years of teaching experience from the Evergreen School District; Ms. Pragati Grover, Saratoga Union School District; Ms. Anjali Kausar, Cupertino Union School District; and Ms. Kshama Santhosh, Asst. Director of Scribbles Montessori.

"Biggest" (age 11-13):
Winner: Neel Kovelamudi; 1st Runner up: Charul Sharma; 2nd Runner up: Ruhani Kapoor

"Bigger" (age 8-10):
Winner: Vishal Venkatesh; 1st Runner up: Madhavan Krishnan; 2nd Runner up: Chinmay Gowdra

"Big" (age 5-7):
Winner: Shreya Tiwari; 1st Runner up: Simarya Ahuja; 2nd Runner up Tanish Swarnapuri

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