A winning world view - BK kid to represent NY in National Geographic geography bee

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In 2007, purple fruit bats were discovered on the island of Mindanao in this South East Asian country. Name that country.

Can’t do it? Well, a 14-year-old from Canarsie can.

Jason Leehow, an eighth-grader at I.S. 240 Andries Hudde School at 2500 Nostrand Avenue, answered that question correctly in the statewide level of the National Geography Bee, which is organized by the National Geographic Society.

And he won!

He’s now preparing to represent New York in the nationwide finals of the Geography Bee, which will be hosted by Alex Trebek of “Jeopardy” fame. The first place prize is a $25,000 college scholarship.

“I’m trying to get as much information as I can within my head,” Leehow said. “I’m studying countries of the world, maps, history, any major information that is necessary and might be in the bee because they have difficult questions.”

Leehow is modest about winning both school- and state-level competitions, which allowed him entrance to the two-day finals in Washington, D.C.

“At first I didn’t really think I could make it that far,” he said. “I remember watching some videos of past competitions and the questions were really difficult. I thought I would never make it past the first round but I did and eventually I won on my final question.”

“I was really surprised and excited about it. He always loved geography,” said Leehow’s mother, Igza. “It became a shock to my husband and myself that he won. My husband couldn’t believe it. He called me and said, ‘The kid won! The kid won!’”

Leehow’s parents helped the teen prepare for the competition by quizzing him from a preparatory text book containing 1,001 geography questions.

“He’s a quick learner,” Igza said. “He gives a lot of credit to his teachers also.”

Leehow said he has always been a fan of geography.

“I’ve always liked geography more than any other subject,” he said. “The minute I started the class, it was easy for me to get through.”

Adding to his love of geography was a trip he took last year to Europe.

“I went to France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland,” he said. “That helped me out a bit because one of the questions that was in the championship round was this area located in the northern part of this country is the main leading area of its manufacturing industry. The area is known as Tuscany. And I knew Tuscany – it must be in Italy. Now I understand more about geography and about Europe. It’s a lot easier.”

When he’s not studying maps, Leehow enjoys riding his bike, surfing the Internet and playing video games.

This fall, he will attend Millennium High School in Manhattan.

“I haven’t really decided much on what college or career,” Leehow said. “I was thinking maybe humanitarian work – something that I can enjoy and doesn’t really attach me too much to a desk job. You don’t want a job like that because when you do something like that, you’re just going to the same place day after day after day. That gets boring.”

“As long as he’s happy, I’m happy,” Igza said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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