Contributed by Sophie Tsekov
Less than a year after fate brought them together, they were competing on the global stage.
Sophia Maehl, Sophie Tsekov and Julia Riesman have found global success in the World Scholar’s Cup competitions, an international academic competition which quizzes participants on a variety of school subjects through timed tests, essays and debates. The girls have now founded a club at the school to spread their unique passion. Their goal is for more triumphs at the competition, and to show a Brookline presence in these events through recruitment.
The World Scholar’s Cup is a three-round event split into the regional, global, and final rounds. Teams of three work together to compete in six academic subjects including science, literature, history and others; the specific curriculum for each subject changes annually. The annual curriculum is always ambiguously linked by a key term given by the World Scholar’s Cup organization.
After an unexpected meeting through a shared class, the trio decided to tackle the World Scholar’s Cup competition, getting to know each other in the process.
“It makes you closer with your team because you have to work together,” Riesman said.
Tsekov said that spending lots of time with her teammates has strengthened their friendship.
“We’ve traveled together. I don’t know why, but when you travel with someone you get closer to them,” Tsekov said. “We’ve gone through a bunch of stuff. Just being with each other so much it has kind of opened a door, or paved the way for a kind of greater magnitude of trust between us.”
The club advisor, David Knott, has seen how dedicated Maehl, Tsekov, and Riesman are and acknowledges their ability to cooperate.
“I’ve had two of them in my previous classes before. They’re smart, very driven and competitive,” Knott said.
The unanimous decision to make the club became concrete after participating in the World Scholar’s Cup. It was an experience the girls wanted to share with others. Tsekov believes while the World Scholar’s Cup is a competition at the core, it is very unique.
“I like that it’s not cutthroat,” Tsekov said. “Obviously people are motivated to do well, but the social interaction is really emphasized. Having all these different people from all these different countries come together to compete in one thing and have a common goal is pretty amazing. You don’t see that often.”
Maehl commented on the energy and environment of this competition, as well as the amazing people she met from the experience.
“You make friends with people from all over the world,” Maehl said. “This competition attracts people that are friendly. It creates this energy and atmosphere where you learn together, but you’re also making new friends and having fun.”
The teammates meet up during free time to prepare. While this can lead to packed schedules and information overload, it is also helpful.
The three students study topics together according to the curriculum specific for that year.
“I’m definitely less nervous about public speaking,” Riesman said. “You’re doing something useful with your time too. You’re learning about issues that are important.”
Maehl also believes this event and the training has taught her valuable lessons for the future. “You have to figure out what works for you,” Maehl said. “That’s an important skill to have all throughout life.”
Knott thinks the club leads to greater awareness of the world and creates something meaningful.
“I think it fosters a self-motivated interest in education,” Knott said. “It inculcates a desire to seek out and digest and understand important aspects of the world. The knowledge goes somewhere and builds something.”
Maehl thinks that this club and competition have made her a better person. She knows she is optimistic for the future.
“It’s changed the way I approach tasks,” Maehl said. “It’s changed me in a way that I’ve now realized I can be more confident in my ideas and creativity.”