My family is packed with language and literature lovers, from my parents to my brothers. One may be forgiven for thinking that I was interested in improving my reading skills from a young age. As many individuals who have had a variety of life experiences, most views, ideals, or desires can be traced back to a single or interconnected experience. This essay would discuss an event that I consider to be a watershed moment in my literacy journey.
For the majority of my childhood, my mother has taught me languages and literature. Similarly, my father is a university lecturer whose primary focus is on effective communication through language, especially in industry. Thus, I have had plenty of exposure from a very young age. However, I had no real interest pertaining the literacy skills when I was younger. As a middle child, I remember my older brother reading these huge books at eleven; he’s two years older than me. My younger sister also had particular interest for fairy tales from an early age to the extent that she exhausted the available titles forcing mum to get her new ones. Unlike them, I never had any interest in books save for a few comic books, nor did I have an interest in writing.
However, my mum used to drag us to the library every so often so that we would read books, especially during school holidays. I would sit near the encyclopedia section and just skim through all the volumes reading the interesting facts and admiring the pictures which I thought were awesome. I was able to pick up challenging words and knew how to spell them. I like to think my mum noticed this because after a while my parents purchased new edition encyclopedias for the home library. She also offered to chip into my comic books’ fund. Nonetheless, my literacy skills were above average always scoring high points in class tests without much effort.
Later on, in grade eight I was required to choose an extracurricular activity to join. My first choice was photography. I asked my dad to lend me his camera, but he was reluctant to do so. By the time I figured I should just change to a different activity, most of the spots were filled in my preferred ones. However, there was an available spot in the spelling bee club. I was pretty disappointed by submitted my name anyway. Two days later, a notice was posted informing us of the club’s next meeting.
We met in the debate’s club usual meeting room since they were using the main hall for practice during the upcoming debate competitions. The club’s patron, one of the teachers in the English department, started the meeting by ensuring we introduced ourselves and then laid out the activities we would be participating in during the meeting. The room itself was designed in a manner such that the speaker had an elevated chair which stood to place them above everyone else. Each member of the club was to stand on the podium at their turn and spell ten random, quick-fire words. Most of the members were there by choice and probably confident of their abilities to spell the words.
When it got to my turn, I was so nervous being among some of the smartest guys in schools and didn’t want to embarrass myself. I managed to get correct nine out of the ten word and relaxed a bit. We went for a few rounds, each round having more challenging words as we progressed. Surprisingly, I managed to so well, in fact so well I beat the guys who had been training with the club for months. The subsequent meetings were not any different; before long I was the best speller in the entire club beating even the seniors. I could recall words I had read in the encyclopedias and spell them out in a heartbeat. Furthermore, I could tell of the origins of words and their pronunciation thanks to the days I spent reading them in the encyclopedias.
The club’s patron took a liking for me and added me the school’s main spelling bee team. Eventually, we had a spelling bee competition in the school to determine who would represent the school in external competitions. Parents were invited alongside the students. I became the best it was one of my best days ever. I was finally famous for being good at something at school. My parents were very proud. Later, we went to the zonal competitions. There were students from other schools flunked by their parents and teachers. I remember being very nervous wondering if I could succeed or whether my efforts were in vain. Everywhere I turned to all I could see were kids practicing words loudly using flashcards. My mum and the patron pulled me to the side and encouraged me to give my best and to trust in myself. It was the first time I had stood in front of such a huge crowd. The first rounds had me nervous, but I got my groove on and led the team to victory against the rival schools. We proceeded to the regionals and where I came in at second runners-up just missing the chance to head to nationals by a spot.
The experience with the spelling bee club gave me a new perspective. Unlike previously when I was scared of going out of my comfort zone and exploring new things, I embraced new experiences. I started reading more books, novels especially and discovered some really good ones. I then ventured into the classics and non-fiction titles. My hunger for new experiences wasn’t sated, and I ventured into the debate club, started writing essays and joined the school paper as a writer. As a debater, I got a lot of plaudits as an orator. Similarly, my articles for the school paper garnered a good deal of positive attention that for a few times, one of the parents who happened to be an editor for a local paper offered me a job during the summer holidays in grade eleven. I turned him down since I had to help my parents in our store.
Nonetheless, my experience with the spelling bee club remains to be one of the most significant in my life. It ignited a spark in me that grew into a desire to enhance my literacy skills. The significance is such that it opened a lot of incredible avenues for me to explore and most importantly set me on a path to becoming the literate person I am today.