HoWSC 2 | Akshat Singal

My journey at WSC began as a fluke when I was asked to join a newly formed team just 2 days before my regional round and my knowledge of the program and the world I was so recklessly about to throw myself into can be summed up in the fact that at that point in time I didn’t even know the format of the competition, or the fact that the round I was going for was just one of many. All of this changed the moment I entered the auditorium and saw Burch and Izzie on stage surrounded by a bunch of weird looking soft toys. As someone who regularly competed in competitions I could still feel the electrifying atmosphere and the buzz of adrenaline which I had become all to familiar with still sent a shiver down my spine. 

I knew I was home when I heard a group of people talking so passionately about Greek mythology, I knew I was home when I wasn’t laughed at for (quite daringly if I may add) shouted out “Star Wars is better!” when Daniel came in wearing a Star Trek uniform. I knew I was home when everywhere I looked, I saw people equally, if not more, excited about exploring new ideas and questions in the Bowl or taking stances that would make any seasoned debater shiver during the debates. 

When the round finished I left the host school with a few medals, a few friendships and a lot of stories heavier. As I look back at it now I can’t believe my foolishness in thinking WSC was behind me because it took only the car ride back home for me to realize that I needed to go to globals and perhaps beyond. WSC had become a part of my life. The Hamilton soundtrack was now my most played, English articles for school were now being written on the cinematic storytelling of ‘Pushing Daisies’ and there was rarely a conversation where I didn’t use a phrase or two from Back To the Future or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Yet after all, this it was only on my way back from the final meal before the closing ceremony at Athens that I realized WSC was more than just the awards you won or the points you scored. WSC was the people you met, it was the stories you made and the stories that made you. WSC was-is-will always be more than just an academic competition. It’s a platform for people from all walks of life to get together, to forget all social protocols and be unapologetically weird together.

I was always told since the time I started talking to others, I was too weird for any sane human to want to talk to me but the people I met at WSC made me realize that being normal was overrated anyways. Like Tetris taught us: “If you try to fit in, you’ll end up disappearing.” 
I will be forever thankful to this competition not for the accolades it has given me but rather for the endless memories and countless friends.

Thank you, for the wand I broke because I was too busy talking to someone, for the games of Cards Against Humanities with friends from BJ&H, for the mountain of vegetables that still make me cringe, for the games of Jungle Speed and chess at ToC, and finally for letting me know it doesn’t matter if you’re a short awkward alpaca with far too many problems to list. What matters is that you’re a short awkward alpaca with far too many problems to list with confidence.

Dedicated to Daddy’s Diner, B&JH (both new and old), everyone I played chess with at Yale and everyone else I met along the way.

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