Perse students to represent UK at International Linguistics Olympiad in Korea
2 Apr 2019
Kilian Meissner (Lower Sixth) and Alex Walker (Year 11) have been selected to represent Great Britain at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Korea this summer.
With the UK sending an eight-strong team to the illustrious event in Yongin, which runs from 29 July to 2 August, it is quite a feat for two Perse students to qualify. They were invited to join the national team following their success in the second round of the United Kingdom Linguistics Olympiad, in which just the top 17 highest scoring entrants from round one sat a further test at Birmingham University.
Alex was thrilled to have gained selection and is looking forward to pitting his wits against competitors from around the world, having had to decipher problems in a range of languages from widely-spoken tongues, such as Polish, to the relatively obscure Indian language of Rong during the qualifying round.
He said: “It’s very exciting to be picked and I think it’s a great opportunity. It will be very interesting to visit a different part of the world and to take part in such a big competition.”
Kilian added: “It’s especially remarkable that two of us from The Perse have qualified. For me personally, it was completely unexpected and a huge shock but I’m delighted and now I want to do well for the school and the country. I’ve not been to Korea before, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
As well as being bilingual in English and German, Kilian has also studied a range of languages including French, Irish and Mandarin and was recently runner-up in the national Upper Sixth French debating competition with fellow Lower Sixth Perse student Hari Prasad.
He said: “Linguistics is really a collection of brilliant life skills to have because there’s not only logic in working out the way languages are structured and their grammar, but there’s also the nuances of being able to get to know more about the culture of places and people.
“Charlemagne said ‘learning a second language is like gaining a second soul’ and I think that’s a very apt description. It gives you a different way of looking at life and a whole variety of different cultures.”
Last year, the UK team, which featured Hari Prasad, won team bronze at the Olympiad. Kilian is looking forward to joining forces with other members of the national squad as well as competing as an individual.
He said: “In teams of four, you have four hours to solve one problem. It’s incredibly hard, but it’s really exciting being able to bounce ideas off each other and slowly being able to work it out. I think everyone wants to aim for a gold but I don’t have any expectations, the most important thing is to just enjoy it.”