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Richard Lu – Geography Olympiad

August 13, 2019 at 10:17 AM

Year 13 student, Richard Lu has a vested interest in geography and was delighted when an essay he wrote last year, comparing climate change challenges between Hong Kong and Auckland, secured him a place, last October, at the selection camp in Wellington, for the International Geography Olympiad (iGEO).

Richard reports:
‘After undertaking multiple tests over two days at the camp, I was proud to be chosen as one of four members of the New Zealand Team to train for the Olympiad. From then on, rigorous team training took the form of wide reading, lecture notes and videos, as well as a final training camp together in Raumati during the April holidays. The Olympiad was held in Hong Kong early in Term 3, with 43 nations and 165 participants!

There were three parts to the competition including a written task, a fieldwork exercise and a multimedia test. The written test asked questions such as, ‘Explain the relationship between the temperature and salinity of sea water in the North Atlantic Current.’ Each question was different and probing.

The fieldwork task involved creating a land-use map of Sai Kung, a small fishing village in North East Hong Kong. Using the map created, the second part of the exercise required participants to generate a development plan for the village. A combination of economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability factors needed to be considered when writing the development plan. Overall, I found this task extremely rewarding as it incorporated multiple elements of geography, including urban planning, population demographics, transport systems and eco-city designs.

The multimedia test was a 40 question multi-choice test which asked about specific geographic knowledge. Questions included topics as diverse as, ‘What is Algeria’s overshoot day?’

Overall in the Olympiad, I earned a bronze medal and came 18th overall in the written test. But aside from pleasing results at international level, for me, the biggest takeaway from the Olympiad was not the tests or activities but rather the people I met from all across the world. We spent our spare time travelling to nearby suburbs and villages on day trips with the Croatian, UK, Australian and Canadian teams, exploring not only the city but connecting with the culture of Hong Kong. We also experienced a typhoon as well as the current Hong Kong protests.

Being at a competition where everyone has a common love for geography really allowed me to broaden my interests and extend my perspectives. The friendships I have made on the trip will last a lifetime. Going on to university, I wish to pursue a degree in Geography or International Development in either the UK or US and the opportunity to be part of this eye-opening event has steeled my resolve.

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