Virginia teen wins National Geographic Bee


Akhil Rekulapelli celebrates winning the National Geographic Bee. With him are contest moderator Soledad O’Brien and Gary E. Knell of the National Geographic Society. (Mark Thiessen/National Geographic)
May 21

Akhil Rekulapelli, a Dulles, Virginia, 13-year-old, has won the National Geographic Bee, which was held Wednesday in Washington.

The deciding question asked which African country is building a new capital called Oyala in a rain forest 65 miles east of the city of Bata. The answer: Equatorial Guinea.

The question wasn’t especially tricky, Akhil told KidsPost.

“I read about Equatorial Guinea and how they needed a new capital,” he said. “I also knew Bata was a major city there.”

Akhil said his hardest question — about the home of the Mapuche people — came in the preliminary rounds. “I guessed Colombia, but the answer was Chile.”

The eighth-grader at Stone Hill Middle School is a Geographic Bee veteran. Akhil came in fourth last year and competed at the state level for two years before that. He credited his parents and fifth-grade teacher with encouraging him.

Prizes for winning the bee include a $50,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galápagos Islands with his family.

Akhil said he would like to continue entering competitions in high school.

“I’ve always been intrigued by Quiz Bowl,” he said. “I’d like to try ‘Teen Jeopardy.’ ”

Akhil plans to study medicine then perhaps visit a few of the places he has studied with Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides medical care overseas.

“Geography can be a part of anyone’s life,” he said.

The finals will air Thursday at 7 p.m. on National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild.

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