The Fairfax County, Virginia, spelling bee champion inspires and helps students across the country sharpen their spelling skills.
Erdem Dulguun, 13, is a three-time spelling bee champion who has been working on his spelling ever since he first found out about the competitions – although at first he thought it was about honey.
“I found out it’s not about bees, it’s about spelling, but to my surprise, I was able to win among my elementary school peers,” Erdem said.
The victory did not stop.
“I’m so proud of him,” said his tearful mother and coach, Bolormaa Jamiyansuren. “He is the joy of my life, like the best thing that happened to me, literally, in my life.”
Erdem’s mother wanted to spread that joy and inspiration to other Mongolian families across the country. Calls started coming in from parents on how to include their non-native students.
Many children in other states did not have spelling bees in their schools, so Erdem and his mother decided to organize a local bee with Fairfax County Public Schools for the students.
“Now that they got good, they were like, I don’t want to compete,” Jamiyansuren said.
“So we thought it would be a really great opportunity,” she said.
This weekend, 34 Mongolian students from eight countries will come to DC to meet.
Erdem and school leaders at Kilmer High School say it’s a special moment for everyone.
“Getting the community together to have fun, to learn, I think it’s such a great life skill to learn about goal setting,” Kilmer Principal Amy Miller said.
“I’m very proud of it,” Erdem said. “I think it’s the greatest achievement of my life.”
The bee will be held Saturday at the World Bank in DC. The Mongolian Ambassador to the US will attend and host a reception for the students and their families.