My father used to tell me tales about far away countries like Japan when I was a child, so I was always trying to imagine what these places were like and enjoyed reading about them. The BBC Focus on Africa magazine was a staple in our household and I still remember the cover with Jonas Savimbi as the first one I was able to read and at least comprehend what was going on a bit. I probably read more encyclopedia articles than any other other book in my secondary school library. As a result, I am a big geography, music, history and general trivia buff. I am big trivia games fanatic and love to play whenever I have the chance. When the Zain Africa challenge quiz game was on, I watched religiously whenever I was on holiday from boarding school and hoped to participate when I went to college. Alas, by the time I landed in college, the Zain Africa Challenge was gone and and I let go of that dream.
As fate would have it, I got kicked out of college here and ended up attending college in America. I still remember when I went to the Honors banquet in my freshman year and a Honda Campus All Star Challenge (HCASC) Quiz team member spoke up about the campus quiz bowl team. HCASC is the Black American Colleges’ version of the Zain Africa Challenge. It is a quiz bowl where different schools play against each other and answer general questions from history to music. He invited us to join and as excited as I was, I did not join in my freshman year as my transition into American life had not easy. Being at a Historically Black University, I might have looked like the rest of my college mates but whenever I spoke my foreign accent stood out and invited questions I had no interest answering. I did not know many people on campus and add to it being a completely new environment, I felt more comfortable staying in my room. My confidence and mental health had also taken a hit after failing medical school and I did not feel confident enough to join the quiz bowl team.
During the summer of my freshman year, I resolved that I was going to join the quiz bowl team when school resumed in the fall and I did. From the first practice that I went to, I felt right at home. We would play practice games every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in preparation for the regional and national competitions. Our coach Dr.Hill, was very easygoing and friendly, he would invite us for game night at his house and would even make food for us. His cheesecake was a favourite of mine. The more time I played in the team, the more confidence my grew and my time in HCASC is one of my fondest college memories. HCASC gave me the chance to do something that I had always wanted to do, play in a quiz bowl competition and also exposed me to so much knowledge. I made friends and even got to travel to Los Angeles, California twice for the national competition. One of the highlights of going to Los Angeles was getting to spend the day at Disneyland California and that day still remains a favourite except for the roller coaster ride. I hope to see a version of the Zain Africa Challenge start again in the near future. I believe that it would help make college a more enriching experience.
2 thoughts on “HOW PLAY HEALED ME”
I am a firm believer that we already have it in us to survive any situation or condition. Something in our past, upbringing or nature always comes through for us when we need it most.
Glad you found your confidence and transitioned into American life. The Zain Africa Challenge was a strong background for you even though you never got a chance to participate in it
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So true, Zain Africa Challenge was such a great show, I even had a chance to meet one of the organizers/funders(can’t remember his role exactly) when I was in America as he was involved with HCASC as well
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