Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy in the spelling bee

Every May I fondly remember my National Spelling Bee days. I remember the countless hours I spent studying words. I remember my dad constantly reminding me to eat. I was so intently focused on my studies that it was easy to overlook such a basic need. There were times that my father advised me not to study so much because I was going to get burned out. My father was worried that I studied too much. What a thought! Shouldn't parents be worried that their children are not studying enough?

I experienced so much from competing in the National Spelling Bee two years in a row as a teenager: the first time I flew to D.C. was my first time to ride in an airplane, the first time I competed in the National Spelling Bee was the first time I felt a sense of belonging among my peers, and the first time I competed in the National Spelling Bee was the first time I traveled to the east coast. I remember being eye to eye with a shark at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and riding a paddle boat on the harbor. I also loved riding a ship for the first time in Annapolis, Maryland. In elementary school I had learned that Annapolis was the capital of Maryland - how surreal it was to actually go there.

I saw Arlington National Cemetery, Lincoln Monument, Jefferson Monument, Washington Monument, the Capitol building. I had my picture taken with Bob Dole and saw Bill Clinton give a speech at Arlington National Cemetery.

I was even fascinated that a speller from Ohio KNEW I was from Texas because of my usage of the word "y'all".

I am not ashamed that I come from a low-income background. Because of my dedication and intelligence, I was able to literally GO places. I was able to go to our nation's capital and capitol. I stayed in the Grand Hyatt, not in the Motel 8s my family and I did on our way to and from Mexico in the summers. I realized I was not forever destined to be poor.

Why did I spend so much time studying words? Spelling made me happy, and spelling allowed me many adventures. Following my passion was my ticket out of poverty.

As I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate those things that make me happy in life: writing, reading, listening to music, spending time with my family, traveling, teaching, running, and drinking tea.

As a woman in my twenties, I have still not stopped dreaming. I dream of being a best-selling published author. Over the years, my teachers encouraged me to cultivate my writing skills. Many of my teachers told me that I would be a famous writer and that I needed to send them copies of my books someday. I remember professors in college and graduate school singing my praises as well.

I might have misspelled "heleoplankton", but that is not what stands out most in my mind about competing in the National Spelling Bee.


  1. Angela! Hi! This is Katie P. from Spain! I'm in Chile right now, teaching English, and our unit right now is about movies. Spellbound was reviewed in our textbook, and my students had never heard of it, or spelling bees, so I'm showing it in class after our exam tonight! Of course this makes me think of you, friiieeeeend! :) Hope you're doing well: you look fantastic!

  2. Your story touched me the most out of all of them in Spellbound I almost cried when I heard that little bell. You set a great example for other who have been brought by their parents to this country for a better life, I admire that you actually have taken advantage of this opportunity given to you. I bet your dad is still proud of you to this day. Congrats.=)

    Yareli ;)