South Asian Spelling Bee
|South Asian Spelling Bee|
|Frequency||Annual (mid August)|
|Location(s)||New Brunswick, NJ|
The South Asian Spelling Bee is an annual spelling bee platform in the United States for children of South Asian descent. It is an annual contest tours the country each June and July in pursuit of the top two spellers from 12 cities nationwide. The competition is open to any student in the between the ages of 8 and 14, who has at least one parent or grandparent who is of South Asian descent, or whose lineage can be traced to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and/or Sri Lanka. Since its launch in 2008, the South Asian Spelling Bee has been aired in over 120 countries on Sony Entertainment Television Asia as a multi-part series.
Regional competitions are held in major South Asian American hubs across the United States. As of 2017, the bee visits: the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, Charlotte, NC, New Jersey, the Washington Metropolitan Area, and Boston. Spellers are enrolled by a parent or guardian to participate in any one regional contest. The top three spellers from each regional contest are awarded cash prizes. The winner and first runner-up in each of the regional contests are invited to participate in the national final, which takes place each August at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. The national champion is awarded a $3,000 grand prize scholarship presented by the title sponsor.
The South Asian Spelling Bee is featured across an array of South Asians-focused as well as mainstream media outlets. Produced for broadcast on Sony Entertainment Television Asia, the regional contests and finals are aired worldwide each year. Many South Asian-focused newspapers, feature coverage of the bee each season, from the season launch through the national finals. In light of the successes of South Asian-American students when it comes to spelling contests, the South Asian Spelling Bee has gained recognition for its role in promoting academic talent. In 2008, the Bee was noted by BBC News. as an emerging platform geared specifically towards this audience In 2010, the South Asian Spelling Bee was recognized by the Wall Street Journal . as a leading academic contest for South Asian-American youth.
Previous National Champions (since 2011)
In 2011, Narahari Bharadwaj of Plano, Texas won the bee on the word "schindylesis." Bharadwaj placed 14th in the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Syamantak Payra of Clear Creek, TX was crowned the 2012 champion on the word "dghaisa." Payra went on to the place 7th and 37th in the 2013 and 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee(s), respectively. Sriram Hathwar of Painted Post, NY, won the 2013 bee on "phorminx." Sriram has done well in Scripps as well, placing 6th in 2011, 3rd in 2013, and becoming co-champion of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee (along with Ansun Sujoe).  They were the first co-champs in 52 years. Sriram also competed at Scripps in 2008 (as a second grader) and 2009. In 2014, Gokul Venkatachalam from Chesterfield, Missouri won on the word "becquerel"; he placed 3rd at Scripps earlier that year and tied for 1st place at the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee, which saw co-champions for the second year in a row. Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, the other champion, tied for runner up at SASB behind Gokul in 2014.  6th grader Shourav Dasari from Spring, Texas was the champion in 2015 (he went on to win the North South Foundation Senior Spelling Bee in the same year).   Shourav was runner-up in 2013 alongside his sister Shobha, whom he credited as his inspiration and the reason he started spelling bees.
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