Unprepared yet Unrelenting

personal narratives May 12, 2021

By Yixin Zhou

On a Saturday morning in an old school bus that stank of sweat, the science olympiad team was heading towards the school of Cornell to compete in a tournament. I was on that bus heading to compete. On the bus ride, my friends and I were talking about games and what our teachers were like. The bus was full of chatter from kids the age of 12 all the way to kids the age of 16. The buzz of chatter went all through the bus ride. After a multiple hour drive that seemed to go by in a flash, we arrived at the school where we were competing. It was a magnificent school that we marveled at. We admired it and its features as we went to our team room which was a classroom that we were assigned by the directors of the tournament which we could use as a gathering spot.  The classroom was full of miscellaneous items that were used by the teachers. Colored pencils, boxes, and decorations were scattered all through the room and they rattled about when moved. But soon, people began settling in and heading off to where they were supposed to go. Some settled down and pulled out phones or computers that whirred to life to pass the time. Others headed off towards their tests bringing intricate mechanical devices or binders full of notes while listening to music or talking to others. I settled down on a desk studying my notes to make sure I was extra prepared for my upcoming test in the next testing period. At the time, I did not realize who my partner was and to my mistake, I did not go to converse with them in order to know whether or not they were prepared for the test. Soon, the big testing time came and I called my partner's name so we could head down there together. He came and I made sure he had all the stuff he needed with him. He was a dark skinned person with black hair and about 5 inches shorter than me. We headed down towards the testing room with other test takers passing by, talking about their tests and how they think they did. At that time while we were walking down a filled hallway, he decided to inform me that he did not prepare any notes, thus making him unprepared for the upcoming test. The test was about anatomy and physiology which is a very advanced subject in Science Olympiad. At the time, I started to panic and become angry at my partner as I had thought we had a good chance at earning a medal if my partner came prepared. My hands started to sweat as I clenched my binder. I instinctively started to get frusturated and my face went all red. I was about to scold him before forcing myself to calm down and be calm in the situation by unclenching and clenching my binder leaving wet handprints. I told him that it was alright and we could still do this. Inside, I doubted him in every way and I think I showed this on my face as he looked like he didn’t believe me. Once we went to the classroom where we were taking it, we settled down into a desk and prepared for the start. The classroom smelled like bleach with kids of all different ages, heights, and nationalities. Once the supervisor told us we could start I immediately split the test into two giving myself a much larger portion than him. I told him he could use my notes but that they were specifically oriented to me so he might not understand it.  All during the test I double-checked his answers, making it apparent to him that I didn't trust him, so I could make sure they were correct which was annoying to say the least. The supervisor called out there were only 10 minutes left. Realizing that we still had over 10 more questions that needed to be answered, I started to sweat and my hand seized up as I rushed to answer all the questions correctly. After finishing the exam, I told my partner that he did a good job in order to keep his spirits up even though I doubted we even got top 20. We headed back towards the team room in order to then get ready for the rest of our tests which were littered with volunteer supervisors and test takers. At the end of the day, we headed toward the gymnasium for the rewards ceremony. As we entered, there were already several teams present in the gymnasium. The loud chatter of students filled the cavernous space. After several delays due to grading, it finally began. The directors of the tournament called out the first 5 teams who won a medal in that subject. Each medal came with claps and cheers from their respective team. Finally, it came down to the anatomy and physiology prizes. The announcer started from 5th place and my heart skipped a beat every time they called our team. Finally, I believed there was no way we won a medal once they had called out 2nd place. But in spite of everything, they called out our team name and announced that we had achieved first place in anatomy and physiology! I was elated! Our team whooped with joy and congratulations and I felt so elated. I ran down there and basked in the glory of my accomplishment in the midst of the clapping and cheering. After the ceremony, my partner thanked me for basically carrying him in the test and I said it was no problem. On the way back home on the bus, there were festivities on how well our team did during the competition and the bus was so loud with celebration, that the bus driver had to tell us to be quiet as it was sleeping time for most people. This accomplishment symbolizes who I am and the hard work that I put into the tournament.


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