Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us of the uniformity of the world. In this instance, that child is seventh grade Cabrillo student, Shreyan Mitra, who came in as the state’s second place winner in the National Geographic Bee competition on April 6.
“Since geography is a study of the world, if we know more about the world, we know more about people, and if we know more about people, we can understand them more and there is less chance of us misunderstanding them,” 12-year-old Mitra said. “Geography shows how all of us are similar.”
The National Geographic Bee is an annual competition organized by the National Geographic Society “designed to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world,” according to their website. Students in grades four through eight from 10,000 schools across the U.S. competed in the 2018 National Geographic Bee.
Mitra has competed three times. Last year, he placed fifth in the state. This year, after a record-breaking eight final rounds, he placed second in the state.
“I like the questions that are related to international and governmental decision-making,” he said. “An example of a question would be to plot all the potential Syrian refugee camps. The contestant would have to take into account the location between the camps, the distance between the camps, the physical terrain, and the person would also need to account for local governmental policy.”
Mitra became interested in geography in elementary school. One of his hobbies is studying atlases for fun, so it was not hard for him to prepare for the competition.
“I think I am starting to understand geography a little better,” he said. “Since I like geography a little better, preparation comes on its own if one likes the subject.”
But knowledge alone is not enough. The National Geographic Bee is a long competition that can take several hours. Tenacity to endure the competition is also a key factor.
“If someone tires out, it doesn’t matter how much knowledge they have,” Mitra said.
When asked whether there had been parental influence on Shreyan’s love for geography, Shreyan’s father Swapnajit said, “Not really.
“We saw him looking into different subjects and it so happened he started to like geography. That was quite a few years ago. As parents, of course we supported him, but the bulk of the work is his.”
Mitra said he is happy with his second-place win but hopes to do better next year.