Three of Canada’s brightest young minds in geography walked away with silver medals at the National Geographic World Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia, this week. Alex Trebek, longtime host of the popular television show Jeopardy!, moderated the exciting game-show style finals that put Canada up against the United States and India. He has hosted the international competition since it began in 1993.
Canadian Geographic Education’s Ellen Curtis caught up with Trebek in St. Petersburg.
Ellen Curtis: You have been involved with the National Geographic World Championship since its inception. Are there any trends or observations that you can make about it over the years?
Alex Trebek: The kids are getting smarter and there are more girls getting involved. The Canadians continue to do well despite not having a national final as we used to. They are always a solid team and that is largely due to (Team Captain) Beth Dye and the hard work she puts in.
EC: Being Canadian, do you hold a special place in your heart when you see Canada up there in the finals?
AT: I do. It’s more difficult now, however, as I have dual citizenship. I am happy to see both the Canadians and Americans up there. All I need is Indian citizenship and it would be complete.
EC: In terms of geography as a whole, do you think that geographic education is more important now than before? And if so, why?
AT: It is definitely more important now. The world is a much smaller place now. With cell phones and iPads, mini-iPads, we can communicate with people on the other side of the Earth in seconds. The more we can know about each other, the better you can deal with, understand and accept each other.
EC: Lastly, there are rumours that you may be retiring from the National Geographic World Championship and other career endeavours…
AT: I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one.
EC: Thanks very much!
Learn how you can take part in next year’s Great Canadian Geography Challenge!