International inspiration

On Friday night, the Minnesota International Center at the University of Minnesota hosted the annual Worldquest quiz game to raise money for its International Classroom Connection program, in which international students visit Minnesota classrooms.

A team called “At Least There Are Door Prizes” won the competition, narrowly beating out the defending champions, the Norwegian consulate. Sadly, this is the last year the Norwegians will participate, because Norway is closing the consulate. Apparently, we are getting an “honorary” consulate, which wouild be great only if Norway were an honorary country.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to acknowledge that the Minnesota Public Radio team finished 41st in a 48-team endeavor, dashing hopes of making it into the 30s this year. We did OK in the early rounds, thanks to team leaders who studied the various flags, and blowing a second round only because we forgot the capital of Germany isn’t Bonn anymore. But those of us with a news pedigree let the team down in so many way, including not knowing (I like to think of it more as “remembering”) that it’s the Czech Republic that, along with Poland, is being eyed for an anti-missile defense shield by the U.S.

After that, we knew we were in trouble when we tried to come up with the answer to a question about the Italian presidency, by trying to remember “the name of the guy who looks like Elvis Presley.” In the end, we lost — badly — to a team that included an 11-year-old kid.

Somewhat more inspiring, from what I read from James Lileks, was the actual student tournament a few weeks ago:


The questions were tough, and the students were smart; there’s something reassuring about a table of young people whooping and clapping because they knew the answer was Mumbai, and they were right. Congrats to Chaska, and better luck next year to Mounds View.

If you think you’re up to the challenge, the Powerpoint versions of previous years’ quizzes — and I presume this year’s will be posted soon — can be found here.

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