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A Competition With A Higher Aim Than Winning

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Students from Ubbo Emmius school in the Netherlands. Photo by Steve Hammond.

As a college athlete (track and field), I understand the desire to put on a good performance while on one’s home turf. So when I was talking to high school students from Team Ubbo Emmius from the Netherlands at Shell Eco-marathon Europe, I expected them to feel the same way about “home field advantage” giving them an upper hand on the competition in Rotterdam.

To my surprise, they didn’t see it that way at all. “Not only do we want to do well, we also want to see all of the other teams do well,” they said in our conversation. “We don’t really feel any kind of rivalry with other countries or teams.”  Rather than seeing this event as 200 separate teams competing against each other for a single prize, they saw all the teams coming together as one family, to help each other find a way to better the Earth.  They may very well have been the youngest team I talked to, but they also seemed to see the bigger picture a little bit clearer than many others. They were not just competing for their team, their school, or even their country, but for the whole world. To me, that is pretty special.

When asked by the Wingate University dean of sport sciences if I would like to take a trip to Rotterdam, I said “Absolutely!” before I even fully understood what I was getting into. When I found out the details and that I would be volunteering at Shell Eco-marathon I became even more excited. As a sport management major at Wingate University, I looked forward to the chance to see up close the workings of an international event focused on education and protecting the world we live in. It allows people of all ages to come in and not only learn about how our energy usage affects our world, but to also have a lot of fun while doing so.

The chance to come to another country and interact with many other cultures has been a huge plus; I’ve talked to other students from France, Italy, Germany, and Spain to name only a few. This interaction has allowed me to learn about other cultures as well as see their views on energy use and its effects on the environment. We only have one planet Earth, so it is essential that we all work together to find the most efficient methods of energy use to keep the world spinning round.