Founded by Daniel Berdichevsky the first World Scholar’s Cup took place in Korea in 2007: a small regional tournament hosted at the Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies. The first “global” round followed a few weeks later, bringing together students from Korea, Singapore, and the United States.
The idea behind the World Scholar’s Cup was to create something different than traditional academic competitions and conferences: a celebration of the joy of learning, a tournament as rewarding for the team that came in last as the for the team that came in first, an enrichment opportunity that motivated students not just to demonstrate their existing strengths but to discover new ones.
From that small beginning–a “world finals” more aptly described as a “world starts”–the World Scholar’s Cup has grown to reach tens of thousands of students in dozens of countries.
Daniel Berdichevsky is the program’s founder and known affectionately as “Alpaca-in-Chief.” In high school, he achieved the highest score in the history of the United States Academic Decathlon and for Daniel, the Decathlon was life-changing: it introduced him to cross-curricular thinking and to the joy of teamwork, inspired him to overcome his fear of public speaking, and launched him into college with new confidence. It was after studying science, technology, and society and public policy at Stanford and Harvard Universities that Daniel came to three realizations: first, that there was no opportunity like Academic Decathlon for students around the world; second, that such a global program could be for students in the 21st century what Decathlon had been for him in the 20th; and, third, that he had just discovered his life’s work. Daniel has also led strategic innovation for CASIO, worked (with great non-success) in venture capital, and volunteered for progressive political campaigns, including Obama for America.