YES! Aylesbury Grammar 2022
How it Began:
One Monday lunchtime, we were on our way to a maths lesson when Alex mentioned we could have a go at something called the ‘Young Economic Summit’, as our teacher had told us about it. I told him no, as I thought to myself; “we’ve got no chance at that.”
It sounded like a huge competition, where we’d be out of our depth because we weren’t doing A-level economics, like other entrants would have been. But lo and behold, Alex convinced us that night to give it a go, we emailed our teacher, and started writing the script for a video to enter.
After many lunchtime meetings, we finalised the script for our video submission to the competition - identifying the problem, discussing our motivation, and how we planned to approach creating a solution to the question: “How can we reduce deaths during a pandemic using taxes instead of lockdowns?”
The Preliminary Stage:
As we were filming our video, it felt like we had done 100 takes, including one where I accidentally started reciting another speech I was learning at the time, as well as one with some befuddled year 7 students lingering in the background, curious to know what we were doing. Eventually, we were happy with it, and with some artistic flair from Sanjit through the medium of some rather smooth transitions (the first of many), we had our video for the preliminary stage.
We sent off the video just before the deadline (in true AGS style) and put it to the back of our minds. Occasionally our group chat was blessed with the “imagine if we actually made it to Hamburg” conversation, but otherwise we were just happy to have given it a go.
Out of the blue, I opened an email saying we had been chosen for the UK final of the YES! Competition. I read it, lost for words. With perhaps the widest grin my face could manage, I turned to Alex and simply said “Check your email.”
Once we had celebrated briefly, we realised that there was a lot more work to be done, and so we got down to it. In conjunction with some late, coffee-fuelled nights working on our survey, our solution, and most proudly, our PowerPoint, we had some zoom meetings with our researcher, Arijit Ghosh, who advised us to look into the Kaplan et Al. 2020 study, incredibly helpfully forming the basis of our solution.
Thanks to Arijit’s help, we were able to focus our research and enrich our economic knowledge while also developing a scientifically well-reasoned solution. Additionally, Yuv and I tackled the statistics side of our research: a clear survey which eventually received over 50 responses. The hours in front of spreadsheets and graph-making websites developed some very important mathematical skills that will be applicable to future careers, as well as some important figures that backed up our idea.
The National Final:
On the 19th July 2022, the UK Final of the YES! Competition took place. This day was one for the history books, not only for AGS, but for us all, as it was the hottest day ever recorded in the UK. As a result of this, the event was moved online, and thanks to Alex’s dad and EMW Law, we were able to compete from the comfort of a very well-facilitated (most importantly, air-conditioned) boardroom.
After a long day of excellent presentations from all of the competing schools, and a fantastic talk from the Warwick University Economics Faculty, came the voting. The voting was very difficult due to the quality of the solutions from all the other schools, but we came to an agreement eventually. Fortunately, we were voted through to the next round by the other teams, and so the real work began.
After a very successful National Final, and a long, relaxing summer, we found ourselves at Heathrow Airport early on the Sunday morning before the competition. We were eager to get to Germany and present our ideas. After a short flight, we landed at Hamburg airport, where we put all our German to use (ich liebe currywurst). Then, another two trains later, we made it to the hostel where we were staying.
A short rest later, we found ourselves in the Welcome Meeting in the hostel, where we met the other teams. This was a great experience, getting to know the teams from all over the world, and their different cultures, with delicious food provided by YES!. Our meeting was followed shortly by a hearty welcome from a few friendly German teams, whom we had gotten along with particularly well.
The nerves that night were building. We knew we had to present in two days, and we were burning to go. We practised our speech again, and got ready to start our journey through the YES! International Final.
Monday was full of fantastic presentations, as well as a wonderful boat tour of the Hamburg Port, further inspiring us to get properly prepared for the following day.
It was an early start but we made our journey to the Bucerius Law School in order to get prepared for our presentation. Once we had checked the microphones were working, we sat down for a magnificent introduction by David Patrician. PowerPoint up and working: we began. We settled into “the zone” and our presentation went as smoothly as it could have done: our stage presence was a point of admiration from other teams.
Then came the discussion: after managing some very challenging questions from the experts, we were able to maintain a good dialogue with the other teams, answering their questions about the Supermarket Excursion Tax.
Following our presentation, of which we were very proud, we continued to watch the other teams, and were astounded at how tough the voting was going to be, given the sheer effort that every single team had put into their solution.
On Day 3, after the last 2 teams had presented, came the voting. Following a difficult discussion amongst our own team, we came to an order in which we were going to vote the teams. The 4 German winners, as well as the International Winners, we thought were all very deserved, and we were amazed at how well thought out all their solutions were.
A trip to remember for the rest of our lives: new friends made, new things about economics learnt, and most importantly, new memories created. The YES! experience is something I would recommend to absolutely anyone, even if it´s just giving it a go at the preliminary stage. After all, we didn't think we had a chance at even making the National Final, yet here I sit, reminiscing about the inspiring environment in Hamburg, awaiting a message from one of my many new international friends.