PA World Quest team wins regional championships


Helena Savage

By Helena Savage

Who recently won a Nobel Peace Prize? PA’s World Quest team dove into finding the correct response to that question. Junior Sama Kubba said, “Half of us were arguing for Nadia Murad, and the other half were arguing for this other Japanese lady.” After an intense round of debate among the team members, their answer was submitted, saying Nadia Murad from Iraq was the correct answer. But with that incorrect response, PA was not deterred and continued in the competition hoping for a victory, ultimately winning over arch-nemesis Norfolk Academy by one question.

After answering incorrectly on a question in another round, there were still plenty more internationally themed questions throughout the competition to regain a lead. In particular of a successful question, PA’s World Quest team was given a photo and asked: Who is this? After analyzing the image, PA responded Justin Trudeau of Canada. In a nerve-racking moment of anticipation, this answer was deemed correct.

PA’s World Quest team of eight became the regional champion for its second consecutive year after a rigorous competition in Norfolk on Nov. 15. After defeating its long-time rival Norfolk Academy (NA), the World Quest team considers this competition a victory, as they anticipate the upcoming Washington D.C. competition in the spring.

World Quest offers PA high school students the opportunity to get involved in “a competition about diplomacy, international relations, geography, and current events,” said senior Joseph Wornom.

As an example, “There is a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, so in order to understand that you need to understand how the geography plays a role in the famine that the people are going to,” said Kubba. “They asked us to identify the coordinates of which Yemen laid in relation to Saudi Arabia.” The team had to give the direction to address the connection between these two nations geographically. In response to this question, “I think it was asking where Yemen was, so Saudi Arabia is northeast in contrast to Yemen,” said Kubba.

Although World Quest is a competition of debate and contradiction, it is primarily collaboration and team contribution. Therefore, each answer is articulated from each team members perspective and ideas, and even though questions at this past competition were argued and debated, they were submitted as a team.

The World Quest team has had an eventful past range of competition successes, and junior Rohan Rathi explained the excitement for winning this last competition. Although PA has won many times, “We have this sort of jinx that has gone on for the past six years where we are unable to win on even number years,” said Rathi. “So we were able to win 2013, 2015, 2017, and it’s a weird superstition I know, but this year when we won it’s partly like breaking that.” This was a big success for PA’s world quest team, and they hope to carry this win into next year’s D.C. competition.

Since the members of World Quest must study and learn about current issues affecting our world, there is a lot of hard work put into preparing for the competition. This year all hard work paid off because “these past two years we’ve gone into tiebreakers losing one and winning last year,” said Wornom. “So this was the first year we actually won without a tiebreaker.” In addition to the excitement of winning without a tiebreaker, Kubba expressed that “it is pretty intense because we are so keen on beating NA.” According to Kubba, the competition became very tedious as it neared the end because they had missed a few questions, but in the end, PA achieved one of their main goals, which was to beat NA.

The intensity of the competition usually boils down to one question, according to Wornom which adds to a nerve-racking and eventful couple hours of competition. As many competitions go, there are always challenges and looming doubt that can distract competitors from staying focused and taking home the trophy. Although World Quest was a fun and informative experience for Wornom, “It’s that one little twinge of doubt that just breaks it,” he said.

However, this year with no tiebreakers and winning by one question, the World Quest team brought home the glistening trophy engraved with their championship title. As the team heads into more competition preparation, the feeling of accomplishment will not be forgotten. “It was actually really exciting because we didn’t know if we were going to win,” said Wornom. “They usually give about 30 minutes to an hour before they announce who won, so it’s the suspense.”