WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vishal Sareddy, a seventh grader at Riverwatch Middle School, knows a thing or two about geography.
He’s turned his passion into a hobby that has earned him a spot at the 2017 National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C. May 14-17.
“It interests me how other people view our world, how people eat, think or get educated,” Sareddy said. “I’m interested in how people use their surroundings to adapt.”
He’s proven his knowledge by winning his school’s match, then earning a spot in the top 100 students in the state and finally winning the Georgia competition.
“I never thought I’d go this far,” Sareddy said. “It was one of my major goals to make it past this level since I was in second or third grade. To go this far is really good.”
After gathering reliable resources from books and websites, Sareddy said he broke down the topics into subjects like physical features, history and culture.
“I tried to master each category,” Sareddy said. “Then my dad would ask me some questions on it and tell me where I’m weak, strong and where I should work on. I put more hours in then.”
It took him roughly an hour a day for one or two months to prepare, and about two hours a day as the competition neared.
“It feels really good and I’ve never done it before,” Sareddy said. “It feels good to represent my state at nationals. I’m happy Forsyth County has been a good cheerleader in helping me prepare for this competition.”
One of his supporters is Wade Prather, Geography Bee coordinator, who said the bond between Sareddy and his father is what he thinks will help him win the competition.
“It’s been so much fun working with Vishal,” Prather said. “The wealth of information they know is impressive. I remember thinking at the state level if they keep running with this thing, they’ll win at nationals.”
Now, Sareddy is one of 54 state-level winners, ages 10-14 competing for a $50,000 college scholarship and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Galapagos Islands, among other prizes.
“It would feel really good to win,” Sareddy said. “I’ve worked so hard. If I won, it’d feel like a big accomplishment and all my hard work wouldn’t go to waste.”
To follow Sareddy’s progress, visit nationalgeographic.org.