Have you met Naa Koshie Manyo-Plange? Are you wondering why you should? Naa Koshie was only 8 years going on 9, when she was encouraged to participate in the national spelling competition; The Spelling Bee- Ghana.
She was encouraged by her younger brother’s teacher and because she has a competitive streak, she took up the challenge. She wouldn’t think much of it until she made it to the Semi-Finals in that first year (where she spelt her word wrong and so couldn’t advance); it then dawned on her that she actually wanted to win and decided to come back.
“The next year I asked my mum if I could sign up again and she said yes so I competed and made it all the way to the finals which were held in Kumasi”, she recounts, at the recently launched 15th edition of The Spelling Bee. I finished in the top 20. I was quite sad that I didn’t win but that gave me real motivation to work harder as I realized that winning was not as out of my reach as I had thought. The highlight of my Kumasi trip was getting to meet the Asantehene (Otumfuo Osei Tutu II) and visiting the museum at Manhyia palace.”
Naa Koshie went on to explain that after her Kumasi experience, which still didn’t yield her a win, she decided to give it one more try. When the 2020/2021 edition of the programme, she asked her mother to enrol her again in The Spelling Bee, which she did, somewhat reluctantly. And then COVID-19 struck, changing life as we all knew it and The Spelling Bee would be a whole different ball game this time around.
The programme, which mainly run on in-person sessions in various locations across the country, was now an online-only one. Though it may seem like a walk in the park today, cast your mind back to March/April 2020, when there was a near nationwide Lockdown of movement and schools (and educational programmes) were not to hold in-person classes. Everyone was thrown off balance as we all did not see the pandemic coming nor did we plan for it; holding classes online was a new thing to us all and felt like walking through a dizzying maze.
If preparing learning resources for the Bee in those unusual times was Herculean for the organisers, then it couldn’t have been easy for Naa Koshie and her Speller-colleagues, especially during Lockdown, and the COVID-19 pandemic. They had to suddenly adjust to attending online sessions in preparation for the Bee, bearing in mind the programme is more of an oral-spelling programme.
Spellers had to access spelling resources via pre-recorded sessions with Trainers from The Spelling Bee, go through computerized spelling drills and reading through voluminous e-books so as to prepare for the competition.
In addition to all this, Naa Koshie added, “Yet another important thing I had to do was to read (many) books to improve on my vocabulary, which wasn’t really a problem because I love to read.” Preparing for The Spelling Bee during the pandemic was truly an added layer of responsibility for Naa Koshie; and this was her third attempt. Will she win?
Come February 6, 2021, Naa Koshie Manyo-Plange will win the 14th edition of The Spelling Bee! She did it, even if it took 3 years!! And for all her hard work, Naa Koshie got lots of prizes (cash, books, food vouchers, fuel coupons, etc.).
The one thing Naa Koshie did, which makes her stand out for me was her incredible act of empathy – she donated a substantial part of her prizes with the Frafraha Orphanage because she “though it would be nice”.
This past Monday October 11 was the UN Day of the Girl under the theme- Digital Generation. Our Generation. It truly is your generation of digital technology and gadgets; so, own it!
Let me leave you with Naa Koshie’s nuggets –
“They say that the key to achieving your goals is ninety nine percent perspiration and one percent other. I strongly believe that most of my learning paid off and is part of what led to my ultimate success.”