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Compete For Team UK - iGEO 2019

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iGeo 2019
The International Geography Olympiad is a competition for the top 16-19 year old geography students from across the world. I have been selected to represent Team UK as one of four students in Hong Kong this summer but funds are needed to travel to this amazing location and bring success to Team UK. I have also recently been offered a place to study Geography at Cambridge this year.

International Geography Olympiad Website 

I achieved this incredible opportunity after competing in the national Geographical Association iGeo competition focusing on upland moorland conservation and wildfires in the UK. This research involved writing and essay and answering questions whilst discovering the geography behind the summer Saddleworth Moor wildfires and the strategies used to mitigate their effects whilst adapting in the future to reduce the threat.

This years international competition has a focus on discovering a vibrant city for our smart future and will take place in Hong Kong in August 2019. The week-long competition involves a written test, a multimedia test and substantial fieldwork requiring observation, leading to cartographic representation and geographical analysis. The aims of the Olympiad are to: stimulate active interest in geographical and environmental studies among young people; contribute positively to debate about the importance of geography as a senior secondary school subject by drawing attention to the quality of geographical knowledge, skills and interests among young people; facilitate social contacts between young people from different countries and in doing so, contribute to the understanding between nations. 

About me 
I am 17 years old and a sixth form college student studying A-levels at The Henley College in Henley-on-Thames where I also reside and participate in conservation schemes such as tree planting within the community. I previously went to Sir William Borlase's Grammar School in Marlow have recently been offered a place at the University of Cambridge to study Geography in October.

Geography, for me,  is a subject which encompasses every aspect of our world today and an understanding of the complexities which underpin our global environment is crucial in planning strategically for the future, especially when considering whether our current resources can support our exponentially growing population - although we have already reached ‘peak child’.

Hans Rosling in his transformative book ‘Factfulness’ poses the question: ‘‘How many of the world’s 1-year old children today have been vaccinated against some disease? A) 20%? B) 50%? C) 85%?’’ The possibly surprising answer (which only 8% of respondents get right) is C, proving the importance of updating our knowledge to ensure we make the right decisions about both our present and future. Reading Rosling’s seminal text made me re-evaluate my own consciousness of the world, leading me to start an online blog called ''A Young Geographer's Insights into the Modern World' ', and write an essay for the Cambridge Compass Essay Competition entitled ‘‘Congratulations Humanity’’, which discussed the need for precision in adapting language such as ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ to reflect more accurately what these terms mean when defining the status of countries in today’s world.

Another important influence in my love for geography was a lecture I attended earlier this year on melting ice in the polar regions given by Dr Sammie Buzzard, after which I was motivated to research the uniqueness of the Arctic using National Geographic Magazine archives and participated in the Young Geographer of the Year competition, focusing my entry on the world's northernmost town. I take delight in independent study and am currently completing a Future Learn course on ‘Tipping Points’. This includes interpreting spatial and temporal graphs that examine the interconnections between changes in the cryosphere, global temperatures and ocean currents, a highly topical subject which also supports my A Level Geography coursework where I am evaluating whether coastal realignment policies at Oxwich Bay are environmentally sustainable. All these projects testify to my ongoing intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for considering alternative futures. Elsewhere in the syllabus I have relished learning about eco-cities, such as Freiburg, and the socio-demographic consequences of ante-natal policies in Kerala. Philosophy has taught me to analyse discrete concepts using reason and empirical evidence, repeatedly challenging my own viewpoints and engaging me in discussion while Environmental Science has introduced me to important research methods, mathematical skills and scientific rigour.

Since winning an academic scholarship at my primary school, I have continued to challenge myself academically. In the course of completing my Silver DofE I developed map skills which have subsequently proved invaluable during field-study and, as a representative in Buckinghamshire MUN, where my team won the ‘Best Communications Award’, I enhanced my presentation skills, as well as extending my global awareness, when representing Bolivia’s position on refugees and asylum seekers. This insight into human rights led to me running the College Amnesty International group. Outside college, I am a part-time nanny, waitress and have undertaken work experience with Henley Town Council, attending a meeting on urban planning for a carbon-neutral bus and new conservation schemes. In my leisure time, I am a contemporary dancer: training on the Trinity Laban CAT Scheme for two years presented me with invaluable opportunities to compete for Team UK in the European Championships, perform at the O2, with the National Youth Ballet and on the BBC. Geography is the fulcrum between my aspirations and my academic studies and an opportunity like this would hone my interests in population and the environment preparing me for a career dedicated to developing a sustainable future.

To be able to compete in this international competition I need money to fund the trip. Any donations no matter how small would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Organizer and beneficiary

Freya Ruparel
Vanessa Ruparel

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