The World Scholars' Cup was new to all of us. There are 3 rounds : the Regional Round, the Global Round, and the Tournament of Champions at Yale University. The participation in each subsequent round requires qualification in order to participate, and the Tournament of Champions, as its name implies, only allows the best of the best teams from around the world to participate!
Round 1 : Pre-Regional Round
When the PACE WSC Club started in September, many of the students that came had no idea about the competition, many of them were strangers to each other, many of them were shy and soft-spoken, many of them had no idea how to write a proper essay, and everyone of them had little to zero experience studying and memorizing from a textbook. Each week, the students were seated in teams, participating in engaging and fun activities. The atmosphere during PACE WSC Club was full of energy and laughter. However, as the weeks went by, the workload became heavier and more difficult, we started to see some students seemed to only enjoy the "fun" part of the class but not the "work" part of the class, some students either produced very poor quality homework or no homework at all, and unfortunately, they were asked to leave the club. There were also those who chose to quit after the 1st term simply because they didn't like the heavy workload.
January rolled around, the six subject curriculum was released. The workload for the class increased even more significantly. Other than the weekly in class meeting, there was also weekly online classes to cover the curriculum, writing, research, debate... The people who didn't quit the 1st term were groaning and wondering whether they should quit now. And yet, at the end, no one did. You might wonder why? This was the beginning of the community building experience. During the club meetings from January to before the Regional Round in May, the students had become friends with each other through the many challenges they had to overcome together. They fought for PACE points individually and yet worked together to conquer many obstacles together. At that time, they might not have realized it yet, but camaraderie has been building among them. What brought them together was a common goal and perseverance through a difficult, yet rewarding experience.
Round 2 : Vancouver Regional Round
The Regional Round in Vancouver was the most dreaded day for all 33 of the PACE Scholars. They had studied hard but no one had any idea how any of them would do in their first endeavor in this competition, as they were up against other 300 students, many of whom were more experienced participants. Most of the kids were disheartened after the 4 rounds, wishing they had done better, saying things like they probably won't qualify for Globals. At the time, I had to remind them they were from PACE which stands for Positive Attitude Creative Education. I was cheering everyone on with positivity, even though I also had no idea how they would do....
During the Closing Ceremony, cheers erupted from the PACE community time after time when our students took top placements in every category. Most noticeably, all six of the subject areas were won by different PACE scholars. What I found most amazing was not the fact that PACE kids swept the Regional Round, but rather the fact that when one of the PACE student's name was called, the whole community erupted with cheers and applause. No one was only celebrating their own successes, but everyone was celebrating everyone's successes as a community. On that day, they all came to the same conclusion, their HARD WORK paid off! They were thrilled - all 33 of them qualified to attend the Global Round.
You can read more about the PACE Vancouver Regional Round here.
Round 3 : Sydney Global Round
Twenty students headed to Sydney in August 2019. While we all had international travel experiences, it was the first time for me to be in charge of twenty kids, fifteen of them without their parents accompanying and were in our care this whole two weeks trip. It was easy travelling with my own children, but travelling with such a large group of kids had proven to be quite a challenge. Coach Rachel broke down in tears under the pressure of parenting twenty kids the second night we were in Sydney after being bombarded with questions after questions, "where are we going?" "what are we going to do?".... Hearing the same questions from twenty kids many times each day would drive anyone insane.
Even though all these kids had international travel experience, but prior to this, they always travelled with their parents. We soon realized none of these kids knew how to act within group travel: some wandered off from the group without letting anyone know, a pile of everyone's shoes made a huge mess in the entrance of our hotel suite, plates and utensils were left on the table after they finished eating, and everyone sat and played their devices without a single "Thank you" to the person who prepared a sumptuous breakfast to them.... I wonder if all these experiences sound familiar in your homes? Being the "Big Boss" in the group, I took it upon myself to educate these children beyond academics. So I "educated" them about putting their shoes tidily when they entered a house. I "educated" them about cleaning up after themselves by rinsing their plates and utensils at the sink before putting them into the dishwasher. I also made sure everyone said their "Thank Yous" when they received anything from one of the adults or each other. I put everyone in teams and assigned a team leader who will be responsible to the whereabouts of the whole team. When we walked to and from the Convention Center, I made sure they were in a structured formation.
After the first few days of teaching, the kids started to know what they should do and things became a little easier. There were still occasional moments of life lesson teaching. They learned lessons about being considerate and unselfish to others, for example when they got on the bus as a group, I told them that the first people should go to the back of the bus to allow people who come later to sit in the front. There were also times when the kids took up all the benches while waiting for the bus. I saw the adults all standing, so I told the kids to all stand up and let the adults take a seat and to do the same when they got on the bus. You might be surprised and bewildered if you were there to see a group of twenty kids all standing up from their seats at my "command". Sometimes, I do wonder to myself, it is obvious that these kids are very "teachable", maybe it is the adults that are unwilling to teach....
Before the Global Round, I said to the kids that the PACE community was signing up for a performance of "My Shot" from the musical Hamilton at the Scholars Show. Right away, similar reactions erupted: " I can't dance!" " I can't sing!" " I don't want to!" I totally understood their reactions, as I looked at these children, other than 2 girls who do dancing regularly, the rest of the children were not exactly the "performers" type. Even my own son refused to do the show at first, worried that he would mess up his rap because it was too long