What are you usually doing at 4:45 AM? On April 25th, while most of us were still sleeping, 20 dedicated students were just arriving at Tech. Why, you may ask? These students were selected to compete in the state Russian Olympiada: a yearly competition held at SUNY Albany. Competitors are separated into levels 1 through 5 based on their experience with Russian, and are further divided into native and non-native speakers. On their respective level, they must be able to answer questions about themselves, talk about Russian culture, recite poetry and speak about a story.
As the bus left Tech bound for Albany, you’d expect many competitors to doze off and await arrival. However, nerves and excitement kept most awake as they reviewed study materials and made final preparations for the competition later that day. Sophomore Kelly Chan was reviewing the stories she could be questioned about; the end of a study process that first began in February. Kelly remarked: “For preparation I studied a little each day. There have been days when I was really tired but studying for 5 minutes is better than not studying at all. Practice is key.” With the amount of energy in the air, the three-and-a-half hour journey seemed to pass in mere minutes and soon enough, Tech’s delegation to the Russian Olympiad arrived in Albany, ready to compete.
Shortly after arriving, the competition began. Competitors waited for an event to be called for their level. They would then walk in, and complete one section of the competition: oral, civilization or reading. This process repeated itself until every student had completed every event. The environment was fast-paced and hectic, as competitors tried to fit in last moments of studying before running to compete in their event. Competitors ran in and out of rooms, letting others know if the judges were fair and what kinds of questions they’d been asked. Even though everyone was competing against each other, they all helped and supported one another as one team.
After an hour, nearly everyone was finished competing. I caught up with Kelly shortly after she completed her last event. When asked how she thought she did, she noted: “The actual process took only a few minutes. In the testing room I was polite and cheerful. It’s always important to have a good impression with anyone really, especially the judges. I think I did alright, but I guess I’ll see later”. Many shared that sentiment: at this point, there was nothing to do but wait.
At 1:00 PM, results were announced. Tech placed and won at every level we competed in.
On Level 1, Philip Dulas won first place and Jasky Karem won second
On Level 2 non-native, Kelly Chen came in first place and Scott Rappaport came in second. In Level 2 native, Andrei Klepach came in first place.
On Level 3 non-native, Jerry Li won first place and Evan Rubenstein came in second. In the heritage category, Elizabeth Nikolaeva came in first place.
At Level 4 heritage, Sophia Kobzarenko came in first place, and at Level 5 Heritage Timur Ibragimov came in first place.