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Nov 9 - Dec 31, 2023

World Wise

For the first time, local students will compete in a national competition on global affairs.

By David Schmalz

Living in Monterey County, it can be easy to go through one’s days with scarcely a thought about the outside world. Sure, it exists, but does it really make a difference in one’s life? The nonprofit World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay, established in 1951, was founded by locals who stridently believed that it does, and several times a year, hosts luncheons with speakers (political scientist Francis Fukuyama spoke in November) to foster discussion about international issues.

And this year, WACMB will host a contest – world affairs trivia, essentially – with the hope of getting more youth engaged. The event Academic WorldQuest (AWQ) was created by the World Affairs Councils of America, and teams of high school students face off in regional contests across the country. The winning team of each gets a chance to attend a national contest in Washington, D.C. Paying all expenses for that trip, as well as cash prizes, is WACMB’s Big Idea for MCGives!

“I think it’s really cool,” says Linda Dilger, who’s coordinating the event on behalf of WACMB. Teams from Monterey, Seaside and Robert Louis Stevenson elected to sign up. The students will study up on a set list of international topics – things like the thawing Arctic, economic sanctions, combating global food insecurity, etc. – and WACMB is giving all the students a study booklet to prepare them. It’s not just about knowing the right answer, speed matters too: the quicker the (correct) answer, the more points it’s worth, though that’s not an aspect of the contest Dilger likes.

“I’m more of a constructive educator,” she says. “When I was a math teacher, I’d rather [students] learn math than just memorize.” (She was a teacher and administrator for 36 years.)

Monterey High senior River Valdivia founded a political science club at his school this fall; he and club secretary Eunwoo Kim say they’ve started a study document, but smile when admitting they haven’t started studying yet – they’ll be doing that over winter break.

RLS sophomore Jett Jones founded that school’s AWQ club this fall, and teacher/club adviser Katie Klein says they’re working to get the program off the ground.

As for a free trip to D.C.? “It’s pretty motivating,” Klein says.