I gained recognition in my school and in my community as the girl on TV. It all started one sunny Monday afternoon while classes were in session, the assistant director of McNeilus Adventist Junior High School interrupted the class and instantly there was quietness in the room with students whispering just like the cemetery with birds the only thing one hears. He greeted the class with that deep voice and fierce look he always had on in the little number of times I’d seen him on campus. He called out names and mentioned mine along with two other classmates and asked us to follow him to his office.
Upon reaching there, seven other students were there, we were asked to take seats and he explained to us why we were there. We’d received a letter from the Bournvita Brain Match sponsors inviting us to be part of their quiz and we were been chosen to represent the school but only three of us could move on to the bigger stage, the Bournvita Brain Match. Where have I heard this name? I thought. Ohh on TV I remembered, but It’s out of state and I wasn’t even allowed to go to town by myself, how much more travel out of state? This was a six hour drive to the capital city of Ghana where it is held.
As this thought circulated my mind, I heard the assistant director say there was going to be a quiz at school which was going to be the deciding factor of which three of us moved on. We had one week to prepare to compete against each other in front of the whole student body. My knees started knocking. The thought of potentially going on national television was a huge deal for me as a fourteen year old who hadn’t spent an hour by herself. We were asked to begin preparation for the following week. I spent sleepless nights studying, especially the dictionary.
The week for the quiz finally arrived. Campus was more quiet than usual; everyone made their way to the assembly hall. Everyone was seated at 10:00 am in the morning, platforms were set in front of the hall and it was time for contestants to make their way behind their respective podiums. It was intimidating and nerve racking for me having to pass about thousand students and teachers to get to the front but I knew I was prepared after a week, besides English was my favorite subject and it wasn’t my first time partaking in a quiz but not in front of such a big audience.
After some background and introduction of contestants, the siren finally rang to start the quiz. It was 10:30 am when I was asked the first question since I am literally the first person all the time on every list of names because of the first three letters of my surname which is “ADD” that is when names are written alphabetically. Everyone had their first question correct. An hour later which felt to me as if we had been in there all day, it was all done and we were waiting for the scores. I emerged winner with the highest score and was proud that my hard work paid off.
Two other contestants with the next higher score were chosen and three of us were presented to the school as the Bournvita Brain Match contestants. It was an awesome feeling. We had a month to prepare and we had two teachers who were to help us with studying after school hours. I told my parents about it and shocking enough they were happy about it and said I should go for it because there was going to be supervision by the teachers. Yes, that was their number one priority…. supervision! I wanted to be alone like the other kids who could go shopping alone and walk home together after school.
In a month’s time, I was going to be competing with several students from different regions of the country. We started preparing each afternoon after class and been coached by our two teachers. Staying back in the classroom after closing time and having to study extra time was tough for me. I wanted to run to the park with my friends to play soccer or hop on the swing which was my favorite thing to do but I had to lift the banner of my school high and the sound of being the student ambassador was refreshing and I wanted that title but would only happen should I bring my A game.
The day finally came and at 4:00 am on Monday, my mum woke me up, prayed for me as the bus was going to pick me up in two hours to set off to Accra the capital city of Ghana. With excitement she helped pack my baggage. At 6 am, the bus was there and my mum escorted me outside, hugged me and whispered to my ear,” you can do it baby”. I got on the bus and exchanged pleasantries with my colleagues already on the bus and one of my teachers. 6 hours later, we arrived at JOSCOF hotel where we were to lodge, provided by Metro TV, the station the quiz was going to take place which is a 15minute drive from the hotel.
They sent message to the station that we had arrived but unfortunately our competitors were not going to make it due to mechanical problem with their bus. We were told to rest and have fun since all we did, ate or drank was paid for. As the only girl, I had my own room while the two guys shared a room. To release tension and nervousness, our teacher took us to see the sea; the sight was amazing, the sea rolling and people swimming. Even though I didn’t know how to swim, I enjoyed the cool breeze. Standing on the shores of the sea, we saw a beautiful site that looked familiar. It was the Golden jubilee house where the president lived.
We’d seen it on TV; we took pictures and came back to the hotel, had dinner and rested. The next morning at 9am, we set off for the station and it was amazing seeing what goes on in production before we get to watch our favorite shows on TV. We headed straight to hair and make-up. I felt like a diva going through that experience and was literally living the Ghallywood (movie industry in Ghana) dream. I remember vividly when my make-up artist unintentionally poked my eye with her long artificial nails and my eyes wouldn’t stop tearing. After 30minutes, we were in this room with lights and cameras.
We were each showed the camera to look in. There was a signal to start; one question I remember was to form as many words as we can from the word “camouflage”. After an hour, it was over and we emerged winners. I provided almost all the answers to questions that came our way. We were presented with computers for our school, cash prize and my favorite…Cadbury products; chocolate powder, books, pens and backpacks. Our teacher made a call to the school and gave them the good news. They welcomed us the next day at school with a parade and I was pronounced student ambassador. My parents were so happy and proud of me.
My life on campus changed for an awesome turn not to talk of neighbors who had seen the episode aired on TV. It was overwhelming after we went on defeating our competitors and got to the semi-finals. We lost at a step to the finale, It was heartbreaking and I thought I’d let down my school and myself. Once again, we made the call to give them the outcome but this time it wasn’t with happiness. We arrived at school the next day and a standing ovation was how they welcomed us. Even though we didn’t bring home the biggest trophy, they were still very proud of us and I know I did my best.
My name changed from Doreen to Bournvita girl and I got to use my Cadbury products which were the coolest thing ever for me at age 14. It was bitter sweet for me graduating from junior high school because even though I wanted to graduate, there was an automatic disqualification from the Brain Match once in senior high school. This experience made me know that everything is possible once one sets his or her mind to with determination and hard work. I gained so much exposure, acquired knowledge, confidence, visited great places and sat among prominent people at an early age. My three years of junior high school was amazing.