The United States was well-represented at the 12th International Geography Olympiad in the Tver Region of Russia, bringing home two gold medals from the competition. Participants from 40 countries from across the globe took part in the week-long competition, which tested the geographic knowledge and mapping abilities of students aged 16-19.
The American team consisted of four of the top Varsity Division finishers from the 2015 United States Geography Olympiad National Championships. Kevin Li from San Diego, California and James Mullen from Cupertino, California were both graduated seniors, heading to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Los Angeles, respectively. Abhinav Kurada from Littleton, Massachusetts and Mahit Vaddadi from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania will be returning to high school in the fall. James and Kevin both earned gold medals, finishing third and seventh respectively. The medals were awarded in a ceremony on August 18 at Moscow State University. As a team, the US finished tied for 12th, putting our results in the top third of teams for the second straight year.
At the Olympiad, the students competed in three competitions. The first competition was a written test, covering various aspects of physical and human geography, asking participants to give analyses of in-depth geographical situations. They then took part in a fieldwork exercise, in which they closely examined several aspects of the Russian town of Staritsa, along the banks of the Volga River. The third element was a multiple-choice test incorporating photographs, maps, graphs, and other visual components.
In addition to the competitions, students and their team leaders were given tours of the cities and towns in and around the camp where the competition was held. The team was regaled with a tours of the historic cities of Tver and Torzhok, as well as a relaxing cruise on Lake Seliger. Towards the end of their stay in Russia, team members and their leaders also took some time to see Moscow, and its famous sites.
The two team leaders chaperoning the students and assisting in the facilitation of the testing were Raynell Cooper, a year-round staffer of the United States Geography Olympiad, and Jason Flowers, a quizbowl coach and AP U.S. History Teacher at the Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy in Austin, Texas. Next year’s competition will be in Beijing, China, and once again, the US Geography Olympiad will be the qualifying competition for all US students interested in winning a spot on Team USA. Good luck in the 2015-16 competition season!