English Language Fellow Ali Cullerton organized and facilitated the first ever national spelling bee for Micro-Scholarship (College Horizon and Access) students in Ecuador.
She developed rules and regulations for the competition, judged the local contests in three locations in Ecuador, and trained judges for the final competition. She also acted as the presenter throughout the entire National Spelling Bee in Quito. “The Spelling Bee was the brainchild of the talented Elisabeth Serrano with the Cultural Affairs Office at the American Embassy in Quito,” Cullerton said.
Scholarship recipients of College Horizons and Access from all around Ecuador came together to participate in this event.
“We aimed for our students to participate in this event for its academic and cultural aspects. Many students watched the movie Akeelah and the Bee to prepare for the contest and discussed how common spelling bees are in the United States,” Cullerton said. Finalists from local competitions were flown out to Quito, where they stayed in a hotel, received a special Thanksgiving Dinner, and embarked on numerous tours of the Capitol.
The actual contest was very well attended by the general public, including important governmental personnel such as Ambassador Adam Namm, representatives from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education, American Embassy and Cultural Affairs Officer Robert McInturff. The National Bee was widely covered by Ecuadorian media as well. Cullerton was even interviewed by the National Radio in Ecuador. After a long, six-hour contest, the winners prevailed, who then participated in the Awards Ceremony, where they received excellent prizes including iPods, tablets, and laptop computers.
The spelling bee also provided an opportunity for scholarship recipients from all over Ecuador to come together, get to know one another, and gain confidence in their ability to speak English. “It was truly a magical event that I will never forget. It was such a success that the American Embassy hopes to hold the National Spelling Bee as an annual event moving forward,” Cullerton said.