My journey to the 2020 International Economics Olympiad

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My journey for the selection of Bangladesh team members to the International Economics Olympiad 2020 (IEO 2020) by Bangladesh Economics Olympiad (BDEO) started on July 17th of this year. I discovered this competition during a Facebook event and as I have always been passionate about the economy, I took the plunge.

The first preliminary selection was a MCQ round in which around 1000 passionate students from all over Bangladesh participated. Despite my not very solid preparation, I was selected. From the preliminary round, the selected candidates move on to the theoretical round. This was followed by a viva review where a committee of economics professionals interviewed the candidates for the selection of the national camp, which would last for a week. It all happened virtually.

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After the start of the national camp, I started to realize that things were getting serious pretty quickly and that I had a chance to be selected. In the camp, courses and assessments were taken by a variety of professionals and academics, ranging from teachers to investment bankers, to give us lectures and share knowledge about the different components of the economy and their real world applications. The aim was to ensure that the selected members could perform well in all aspects of the economy and related subjects. The camp ended with an assessment test, after which they announced the participants representing the Bangladesh team. To my astonishment, I was selected. I felt honored to have had this opportunity to participate in such a global forum. The selection trials, which lasted almost two months, made us feel ready for the competition to come.

I was joined by Syed Nazif Ishrak from Sunnydale School and Fariha Zaman Promi, Esfar Jawad and Darpan Barua from SFX Green Herald School. Md Al-Amin Parvez, Senior Lecturer at Dhaka School of Economics and Akhtar Ahmed, President of Capstone School, who was also our coach, led our team. I was the youngest on the team, but the extensive guidance provided by my team and coaches made up for that.

Rather, the last international event scheduled to take place in Kazakhstan took place virtually due to the pandemic. We started our team preparation just a few weeks before the event, but with the help of our coaches and mentors we were well prepared. The IEO consisted of three tours, run from September 7-13, 2020. We completed all of our tours at Capstone School Dhaka. The first round was Financial Literacy, which was a pretend play in creating personal financial plans to deal with stock markets, bonds, real estate as well as real-time events as the game was progressing. In this game, whoever scored the most points would win. We came 5th in the national ranking with Fariha Zaman reaching the 7th position in the individual ranking. The next round was the economic round where we had to answer questions related to economics, business, finance and game theory. It was one of the toughest papers I’ve ever done, but we got it right.

The last round and the round where we shone was the business case round. It was based on teamwork. Our case was that we were a focus group and needed to provide a price for a Covid-19 vaccine. It was a great ordeal, but one in which our experienced members, Esfar and Darpan, played a leading role in ensuring that our presentation was flawless. We worked all day and all night to find a suitable presentation. I worked in marketing and logistics trying to come up with a formula and presented the pricing strategy slides. For the first round of the business case presentation, they put us in the South Asian group. The winner of this round would advance to the final. Because of our performance, we went to the last lap.

The last lap was really stressful and nerve-racking. Our presentation was toasted and questioned every step of the way by top industry professionals and economists around the world, but we persevered and answered all of their questions with Nazif acting as our star.

On the last day of the Olympiad, the award ceremony took place. We weren’t very confident as they calculated the scores from the previous three rounds. To my surprise, we ended up winning four individual bronze medals and our team placed third for the business case presentation. I received bronze for the individual performance. The feeling of beating countries such as USA, Russia and China where they had trained for an entire year was great and was only possible thanks to the teamwork of the Bangladesh team which was without equal.

While we missed going to Kazakhstan due to the pandemic, the entire ODEO made sure that there were no unturned stones in our journey to the final round. Tahsinul Islam, Organizing Secretary and Rafid Abrar, Secretary of the BDEO Executive Committee, helped us along the way, making sure everything was under control so that the Olympiad was our only concern. Trainers like Akhtar Sir and Al Amin Sir stayed awake night after night to make sure we were well prepared. We were one of the few teams that had a real venue for the Olympiad – the Capstone School. All of the Capstone staff ensured that we could participate in the Olympiad in comfort.

So, the only reason for these results is the teamwork and the help of so many people. This is only the start of a long journey, but we have started with success. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the most talented teammates I could dream of. Although I am not in a position to give any advice, I am convinced that young talents with a passion for economics should not hesitate to participate in such a competition.

The writer is a class 11 student at Sunbeams School in Dhaka.

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