Spelling Bee Contest in Telsiai

Frances Rauland represented the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius at a first-of-its –kind Spelling Bee in Telsiai district on April 5.  The school district, located about 280 kilometers northwest of Vilnius in Samogitia region, currently has two volunteers from the Erasmus Plus Program, which places volunteers and teachers around Europe; in this case one from Georgia and one from Croatia. The young volunteer from Georgia discovered the Spelling Bee concept from the Peace Corps and decided to introduce it to the school district.  The teachers and students quickly adopted the idea, and the finals drew  seven schools represented by 24 students a the eighth and ninth grade levels, and 11 students representing four schools at the 10th and 11th grade levels.  In attendance were also the Mayor, four English teachers, the Georgian volunteer and the U.S. representative as judges.  The 8th-9th grade students did an outstanding job in spite of their nerves, and the battle between the final participants was so intense that the judges had to abandon the prepared list of vocabulary and branch into the extra words list.  That quickly brought to an end the hour and half competition! The older students did not battle quite so fiercely and the winner was quickly announced. Numerous times the teachers thanked the U.S. Embassy for its support and for validating its English language program.  They hope to continue this new tradition.