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May 24, 2004

Spell this…

So yesterday (Saturday) was the Spelling/Vocabulary Bee that I’ve been talking about for about 2 months now. It all started after I had volunteered at the annual North South Foundation regional contests and I figured it might be worthwhile to do something similar for Muslims. Alhamdulillah, what started out as a random (and half crazy) idea blossomed into an excellent event. When we were planning this event out, we thought that if we got even 20 kids to show up, it would be a success for the first year. By the grace of God, we had 47 contestants just in the Spelling contest itself.

Let’s get to the Sportscenter highlights of the event:

My day started off quite early, as I spent Friday night awake till Fajr to fine tune all the last minute details for the event. After catching 2 hours of sleep, I woke up and joined my fellow partners in crime at Albanian by 8:30. (Note: I was on time, even arriving BEFORE certain people… ahem). After assembling everyone, setting up chairs and junk, and figuring out other logistics, it was time to address and rally the troops:

I started by telling them how the day would unfold and other things they needed to know; the most important thing I tried to stress was to let everyone know to bring their “A” games and always appear to be in control of the situation, even if that werent the case. Alhamdulillah, not only the organizers, but even the onsite volunteers (the ushers, AV guys, judges, etc)… EVERYONE stepped up HUGE and definitely brought their A games yesterday. I was really impressed by how everyone knew their role and did it extremely well.

Around 11 am, we got the Spelling Bee started with a brief (although some would argue my use of “brief”… heheh) introduction and whatnot. Notice in the foreground on the judges table, my prodigal roommate, Atif Jaleel, who graciously agreed to help me out by being a judge. It seems that when he’s not busy studying for boards or making up lies about my robot dancing, he can really be counted on in the clutch.


All the little kids were so excited to be there:

Anyway, to skim through the details of the event, the Spelling Bee went pretty well. One hilarious moment came during Phase I when I was pronouncing the words for the contestants… one of the words on the list was “darkness”. When the contestant who was to receive that word came up, I looked over at Rehan and we both had to struggle to control our laughter, and for me not to say (in the matter of Rick James), “daaaahkness”. While it did run somewhat over the time we had allotted for it, overall, parents and students were really happy with how it went. We had many parents come up to myself and the other organizers and comment that it was a wonderful idea and event that we put together. Anyway, the winners of the Spelling Bee, posing with the chief judges, Atif and Rehan (yeah, that’s my boy Hafiz Yaqub Shareef standing with his daughter (far left) who won first place in the Spelling Bee):

Whoa, what’s this, Rehan doing work at an event? Yep, he did, and ole boy came through pretty well, along with everyone else who volunteered. I wish I had more pictures of all the people who did work, but nonetheless (the laptop on the table is the same comp I use everyday as well… I say this only to recognize my laptop for all the hard work it’s put in =) ):

By far, the most memorable thing of the event was this cute little 3rd grade girl, Hannan Ouyyum, who was courageous enough to participate in a contest against 5-7th graders. I felt so bad for her cause she seemed to get the hardest words, but nonetheless, she was so happy just to be there. We gave her a special prize for being the youngest contestant and recognized her along with the winners:

Random comment: What’s with all the Ice Mountain water bottles in every single picture? It’s like we were subliminally advertising Ice Mountain water in this event.

Spelling Bee itself took more than 3 hrs to complete, but overall, it went pretty smoothly. After the Spelling Bee, we paused for lunch/Zuhr. Lunch was free because it was all donated from various restaurants:

(is kazim picking his nose?)

The Vocabulary Bee went a lot smoother, in the sense that there were only 10 contestants so it went by much quicker. To get an idea of what the vocab contest looked like, each contestant came up and received a word on the screen, along with 5 possible answer choices:


We had some drama when it came to the winners, since there was a tie and two guys had to duke it out for 2nd and 3rd place. Now, the rule was to win a tie breaker, a contestant had to answer 2 words correctly after the other contestant missed a word. So what happened in the tiebreaker was that every time the first guy would miss a word, the second person would get the next word right, but then miss the potentially winning word. I was operating the powerpoint at for this contest, and I was like come on, someone win (the second picture was right after the 6th or 7th time this happened):

So then, we finally had the winners, posing with the IMAN representatives:

Anyway, thus ends the picture gallery. Overall, I was just overwhelmed by how well this event went by the blessings of God and the support of all the organizers and volunteers. Inshallah, I hope that next year this event will be even bigger and better than this year.


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