“The USAP isn’t about demonstrating how good a student already is. It’s about daring to push one’s limits. It’s about the people one will meet along the way - the coach who supports the pentathletes, the competitors who challenge the pentathletes, and the teammates who will become lifelong friends. ” —— USAP Welcome Letter
On February 24, 2018, the United Academic Pentathlon (USAP) was held in Guangzhou. USAP is a comprehensive academic competition for junior high school students, with five sub-divisions of literature, mathematics, science, social sciences and humanities and arts, as well as team competitions and ‘super’ Q&A sessions. The competition is the second USAP Chinese final, with nearly 1,000 junior high school students from all over China participating in the competition. Also it is the first time a team from FDIS participated in it. This year's academic theme is Africa.
During the 3 days of the competition, we settled down in the Shangri-La hotel in Guangzhou. The hotel provided a good environment for the pentathletes. There was not a lot of noise in the rooms so that we could focus on reviewing without getting disturbed. I felt that the USAP group made sure that the pentathletes could join the competition fully prepared and confident. The test was easier than I thought it would be. The way the test was hosted was unique. It felt like enjoyment and learning at the same time rather than just taking tests. ——Cecilia Wang (Grade 8)
The testing day involved us taking tests on every subject : Literature, Science, Fine arts, Math and Social Sciences, all about Africa. The team thought different subjects were the hardest and easiest. This time we agreed that Literature was the easiest and Social Science was the hardest.
The second part was the Super quiz, in which you have to choose the right answer on the big screen and tell the judge your answer. The next part of the quiz was the Assessment Center. We were given a topic to test our cooperation and teamwork with our teammates. This year, we had to build the highest Ping Pong ball tower with the given materials. Even though we broke some rules, the structure was done pretty well.
This was probably the coolest part of the USAP competition, Gala Night. everyone was given a mission card. If you complete all missions, you get to enter the lottery ticket event. There was also many shows performed by the USAP competitors. They were very talented. There was also an African dance and Hip hop show performed by African people, we got to see African culture, live!
——Jasmine Sun & Sunny Xu (Grade 6)
It was the first time we participated in USAP. Without medals or shiny trophies, it might have seemed a useless trip with no reward, no witnesses and no hope at all. When you think back, parents have always given us motivational speeches about how hard life is. Some made sense, some didn’t! When I came home, my parents said four words to me: learn from the past. So here is some advice from the team. Work hard, learning easy, and take things seriously yet fun within your widened views. Going to a 900-strong student competition, is a pressure you must endure. As an old saying goes: you must give to get. Be ready, future pentathletes!
——Michael Wu (Grade 8）
I would welcome more students from FDIS to join the team, to contribute to our success. Maybe the price might be too high, however, the outcome will be worth it. Even if you lose, the process would prepare you for future competitions.
——Riki Guan (Grade 8)
As Pentathletes, you learn an exciting new theme. This year the theme was Africa, which is not a common topic that young teenagers in China would easily have access to. This makes the USAP experience more special. The preparation was harsh. Pentathletes explore five subjects connected to the theme that require strong academic skills, including time management, resilience, responsibility and a positive attitude. Among the teams, different students had different academic strengths but they share a single goal.
Joining the USAP may require you to study more than you ever have before. I invite you to join this competition that you may think is over your head, until you realize you can reach higher as a team. I challenge you with the struggle but I invite you to learn - not just to read, but to understand; not just to win, but to lead.
Diligence is the key to academic success. The experience these students gained from the competition will accompany them beyond just one competition.
Team members: Michael Wu (Grade 8), Alex He (Grade 8), Riki Guan (Grade 8), Sunny Xu (Grade 6), Clara Jing (Grade 6), Jasmine Sun (Grade 6） and Cecilia Wang (Grade 8)
We look forward to the next USAP China finals, and we invite more students to join the event. With this experience, our team will be more confident in the coming year. We will be more cautious in preparing for war. Go Mustangs!