Perseverance key to Indian-Americans' success: Spelling Bee organisers

As the annual spelling contest gets underway, organisers have for the first time tried to address an issue that has troubled some Americans: complete domination by Indian-Americans.
Updated on May 27, 2015 08:49 AM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times | ByYashwant Raj, Washington:

As the annual spelling contest gets underway, organisers have for the first time tried to address an issue that has troubled some Americans: complete domination by Indian-Americans.

Though not exactly sure about attributing it to any one factor, Paige Kimble, longtime director of Spelling Bee, believes it might be their “perseverance”, ability to hang in there.

Bee 2015 started here just outside DC on Tuesday.

Indian-Americans have not only won the Bee for seven years running now — and 10 in last 13 years — they have also tended to dominate the final few rounds.

Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe won jointly in 2014.

While President Barack Obama tweeted out a congratulatory message to them, some of the other responses on social media were unpleasant, hostile and plainly racist. “Nothing more American than a good spelling bee.. Oh wait all the Caucasians are eliminated.”

“The kids in the spelling bee should only be AMERICAN”

Kimble, a former Bee winner herself, told the Washington Post, the responses were “not nice, that indicate that we have a long way to go as a country in embracing all of our immigrant population.”

The Bee has been asked about this extraordinary run by Indian-Americans several times. “The championship belongs to those who are willing to work the hardest,” Paige told Hindustan Times in 2013, adding, “what we see is a will to work very hard to reach the highest level of this programme.”

Last year’s hostile reaction, however, compelled the organisers to address the issue more forcefully than ever before. “How hard a child works is a very individual factor,” Kimble told the Post.“But what might be happening (with Indian-American contestants) is that there might be perseverance for the National Spelling Bee goal over a longer period of time.”

They keep returning, getting better and more confident every time — only one of them, Pratyush Buddiga, won on his first attempt, in 2002. He is now a professional poker player.

Hard work and perseverance has paid off, evidently, with a little help from a highly effective support structure built around coaching by organisations such as North South Foundation. This non-profit offers lessons and coaching material to students from the community, and prepares them for the Bee through parallel contests.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • MI5 Director General Ken McCallum, left, and FBI Director Christopher Wray attend a joint press conference at MI5 headquarters, in central London.

    FBI, MI5 chiefs warn of ‘immense’ China threat at rare joint address

    FBI Director Christopher Wray and United Kingdom MI5 Director General Ken McCallum on Wednesday cautioned business leaders against threat from the Chinese government, in an unprecedented joint address at the British intelligence service's London headquarters. Speaking to an audience of officials and business executives in Thames House, Wray talked about “complex, enduring, and pervasive danger” to the innovative businesses from China.

  • Elon Musk had twins in November 2021 with Shivon Zilis, reports claimed. 

    Elon Musk now father of 9, had twins last year with company executive: Report

    Tesla chief Elon Musk is now believed to be the father of nine children as a Business Insider report has now claimed that Musk had twins in November 2021 with Shivon Zilis, a top executive at Elon Musk's Neuralink, a brain-chip startup. She has been working in the company since May 2017, the same month she was named a project director in artificial intelligence at Tesla where she worked until 2019.

  • UK PM Boris Johnson fires ally and digs in despite calls to quit

    UK PM Boris Johnson fires ally and digs in despite calls to quit

    Britain's scandal-hit Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempted a rearguard offensive late Wednesday against a cabinet and Conservative party revolt, firing a top ally and vowing to "fight on" despite dozens of his ministers resigning. The dismissal from the cabinet of "levelling up" secretary Michael Gove -- Johnson's right-hand-man in Britain's 2016 Brexit referendum campaign -- dramatically showed that the Conservative leader was not going to bow out without a fight.

  • In parting blow, Javid attacks PM’s leadership style

    In parting blow, Javid attacks PM’s leadership style

    Former British minister Sajid Javid delivered a withering attack on Boris Johnson's leadership on Wednesday, telling him and his fellow lawmakers in their ruling Conservative Party that it was time for the prime minister to resign. Javid stepped down as health minister on Tuesday, the first of a flurry of resignations of ministers who said they had lost confidence in Johnson and that he was not fit to govern.

  • At least six people were killed and around 30 wounded on July 4 when a gunman opened fire from a rooftop at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

    US July 4 parade shooting suspect contemplated 2nd shooting: Police

    The man charged with killing seven people at an Independence Day parade confessed to police that he unleashed a hail of bullets from a rooftop in suburban Chicago and then fled to the Madison, Wisconsin, area, where he contemplated shooting up an event there, authorities said Wednesday. The parade shooting left another American community reeling — this time affluent Highland Park, home to about 30,000 people near the Lake Michigan shore.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 07, 2022