Published May 19, 2017
Did you know that the ancient name for Amman, Jordan, was Philadelphia?
Or that some married women in Ethiopia who speak the Kambaata language follow ballishsha, a rule that forbids them from using words that begin with the same syllable as the name of their father-in-law or mother-in-law?
Some staff members from UB’s English Language Institute (ELI) do, and their knowledge of obscure topics like these earned the team first place in the International Institute of Buffalo’s annual WorldQuest global knowledge trivia contest on May 11.
And the victory was even more meaningful because the team had placed second in the previous three WorldQuests, which also serve as a fundraiser for the International Institute’s educational programs.
“We owned second place,” Colleen Maloney-Berman, director of ELI’s Intensive English Program and a four-year member of the WorldQuest team, says of her team’s previous performances in the competition. The three consecutive second-place finishes are particularly noteworthy, she says, because first and third places changed each year.
This year, the judges didn’t reveal the standings at halftime “so we didn’t know how we were doing. We just knew we’d missed a number of tough ones,” she recalls.
“At the end, there was a tie-breaking question for second place. When the judges identified the two teams involved, my heart sank. We weren’t one of them. No second place for us this year. I had no idea that we’d be in first place. I figured Mount St. Mary Academy (which won last year’s competition) had come in first again.”
Maloney-Berman says the WorldQuest questions were organized into six categories — among them history and geography, language and literature, and current events — with eight questions in each category. “This year’s questions were the toughest I’ve seen in four years of competing,” she says, adding that many had “paragraph-long setups.”
Besides the Amman and ballishsha queries, questions covered such topics as the native name for the stone-head statues found on Easter Island, the name of the West African country in which the dish commonly known as fu-fu originated, and the form of government that resulted from the recent election in Turkey.
Members of this year’s winning WorldQuest team, in addition to Maloney-Berman, are ELI staff members Kirsten Reitan, Addison Marino and Stephen Caldiero, along with Angie Fulk of Canisius College and Mark Fulk of SUNY Buffalo State.
Other teams competing represented such local businesses and institutions as Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Phillips Lytle LLP, Ernst & Young LLP and Mount St. Mary Academy.