How these Chennai high-schoolers beat the best at Yale

 Junior World Scholar Adam Libby talks about his team's life-transforming experience of winning the World Scholar's Cup at Yale University
Going for the win
Going for the win

It was half past 12 and I had a phone engagement with a 14-year-old Junior Scholar. That’s how Yale addresses him, anyway. Adam Mihir Libby is a class 9 student at Sishya School in Chennai who recently represented India at the World Scholar's Cup Tournament of Champions, which is an annual international academic competition conducted by Yale University. Guess what? Adam, along with his teammates Sibhi Aravindan and Tejas Narayan bagged the overall championship in the Junior category. This one’s a first for India and the team at Chennai-based A to Zee Creativity is understandably thrilled who trined the trio.

Eyes on the prize: Adam and team after winning the championship at World Scholar's Cup

Adam has a love for quizzing and he tells us how the team prepared for the competition, that also has written tests and debates to boot, “This competition is a year-long competition, the way it works is, each team has to go through several qualifying regional rounds around the world in April. Every January, the syllabus for the quiz is released and we are given an outline for every subject that we have to cover based on the theme chosen. The content for each subject was not provided to us, so we had to do our research and study each subject deeper to expand our knowledge. The more we studied, the better were our chances to excel in the competition,” he explains.

The finals were at Yale. Yale, a word that sends shivers down my spine because of the aura attached to it. While some can only hope of stepping into the town that is synonymous with the varsity, Adam had his dreams come true. He talks us through how he felt walking into that campus, “The entire town is built around the university and it all just felt very special. I, for instance, felt very privileged to be there and be a part of the panel discussions where students of the university share their ‘life at Yale’ experiences,” he adds with animation.

Flag bearer:  Sibhi Aravindan holding on to the Indian Flag on a proud note

While some of us at age 14 get paranoid about competing with siblings for little things like getting a larger portion of candy, Adam’s (and his team's) perspective on competing with over a thousand teams from across the world is just amazing. They were not one bit frightened, “It was an exquisite experience to meet people from across the world. The size and diversity of the World Scholar's Cup didn’t overwhelm us but instead made us feel special to be a part of the programme which hosted people from 59 countries.”

When asked about the levels Adam and his team had to push through before making it to the finals, this is what he had to say, “We had to go through a regional round which was held at Chennai. We qualified and we were sent to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the global round. It was an experience to remember and I would do it all over again if I could. But I have my board exams next year and that’s the sad truth,” he laments.''

After the Yale win, they hold bragging rights to the Junior World Champion title. Adam is so proud of this achievement that he walks us through the ‘butterflies in his tummy moments' of the competition, “Quizzing is my favourite thing to and it was an honour to just be a part of this competition, let alone win it. The results were overwhelming and it always comes off as a surprise, as every participant is kept in the dark about their overall scores. We had our fingers crossed as they slowly started counting down teams. A few seconds later (after the results were announced) I couldn’t believe what I'd heard. We did our country and ourselves proud and that was all that mattered at the end of the day,” he signs off exultantly.

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