Round 2 of Wharton Global Youth’s 2023 Comment & Win Contest Celebrates 10 Storytelling Superstars

by Diana Drake

Learning is inherently connected to storytelling. Psychologists who study the strength of narratives say that stories are a powerful way of communicating ideas by highlighting our own experiences, making sense of what we know, and creating continuity. We learn by both telling and hearing stories.

During Round 2 of the 2023 Wharton Global Youth Comment and Win contest, there was a whole lot of learning going on! Some 110 high school students from across the globe embraced the power of the narrative in our “Personal Connection” round to share stories and reflect on Global Youth content in extraordinary and compelling ways. You left honest and poignant pieces of yourselves in the pages of our Global Youth business journal.

Our team “listened” to every commenting story, and we’re better for it, gleaning useful and quirky intel on everything from sustainable clothing (Good On You) and equal opportunities in basketball (Lunar), to the XFL (data-driven decisions) and international gaming tournaments (CSGO in Paris). Oh, and food! So much food! (chicken feet and century-old black eggs).

Family was the abiding theme of this round, especially fathers and mothers who persevered and sacrificed to improve their children’s lives, often within the moving context of the immigrant experience. Brian N., 15 and sophomore from Jefferson High School in Oregon, U.S., describes his dad leaving Vietnam and, at 13, picking strawberries in “exploitive” U.S. fruit farms. “Working 14-hour shifts and [for] a mere $1.25 a day, his commitment to a stable future led to adequate savings and the purchase of a small pho restaurant.”

And we must give a shoutout to Anya A. (see below), whose dad gave her a fresh perspective on her Round 2 commenting story, prompting her to post a postscript to her original comment. We love when our Comment & Win sparks dinner-table conversation!

“Growing up as an Asian-American should be a journey of pride, not of shame, and I am glad I found my voice reading this interview.” – Commenter, Stanley Y.

Few threads are as rich in culture and the human experience as the ethos-infused comments on the Future of the Business World transcript, Fighting for Asian-American Representation in Media and Education. Many commenters, especially young Asian-American men, were inspired by podcast guest Albert Zhou to share their own identity struggles. “Growing up as an Asian-American should be a journey of pride, not of shame, and I am glad I found my voice reading this interview,” said Stanley Y., from the Bronx High School of Science in New York, U.S.

And now…Who Earned Round 2 Commenting Cred

So, my friends, you left us reeling as we labored to select this round’s winners. In the end, we decided to choose 10 storytelling superstars, identifying only the first-place winner and letting the other nine comment tales speak for themselves. So, no “runners-up” this round, only top comments. And, of course, we had fun with a few superlatives, as well. The best commenters wove storytelling with direct references to the text, reflecting on how the content and your own experiences merged to deepen your understanding of business and life.

Top comment honors in Round 2 go to Heejae K., 17, from River Dell Regional High School in New Jersey, U.S. Her thoughtful comment on the podcast transcript Studying Social Media Use to Quantify Emotions and Improve Mental Health, was simple, yet powerful. We were impressed by how she considered her own experiences and those of others to think critically about Nicely’s social-media mission. A truly integrated comment with reflective muscle, references to the podcast (that she listened to!), and some selective, quality storytelling.

Alexander B., 16 and a student at the Haverford School in Pennsylvania, U.S. (and also a Wharton Global Youth student on campus this summer), is a Round 2 storytelling superstar. Alexander’s well-written comment on 5 Tips to Help You Know When It’s Time to Quit was a strong and succinct chronicle of his experience playing tennis, getting injured, and coming to terms with quitting. He clearly gained insight from Annie Duke’s book to illuminate his own journey.

The next top commenter shows the power of peer engagement in a generation of problem solvers. Miruna-loana N., 16 and a student at I.L. Caragiale National High School in Bucarest, Romania, wowed us with her woman-empowerment organization, FeminEast, and her work drawing parallels to and inspiration from Sahana Ahuja in the podcast transcript The Launch Project Connects Women to a Future of Fearless Leadership.

Storytelling superstar Carter C. from the University of Chicago Laboratory School in Illinois, U.S., first grabbed our attention with his tone, speaking directly to Launching a Healthy Sports Drink podcast guest Alana Andrews (now a rising Wharton sophomore) with intention and enthusiasm. Great connections and takeaways all-around. Carter is a participant this summer in Global Youth’s Leadership in the Business World program.

Sidharth D., 16 and a student at Centreville High School in Virginia, U.S., tackled an important, timely topic with clarity and impact. His comment on the Global Youth article, Wharton’s Christian Terwiesch on How ChatGPT Can Stimulate Your Thinking, provided a high school ChatGPT cheating story that many could relate to, cleverly connecting it back to Dr. Terwiesch’s research and experience.

Jiwon R.’s storytelling was as sweet as, well, cotton candy. We loved how Jiwon, a senior at Taejon Christian International School in South Korea, commented passionately and directly to Kush Malpani on the podcast transcript The Power of Technology Lifts Sales for Mumbai’s Book Vendors. She thought carefully about how her interactions with food vendors in Korea aligned with the mission of the Roadside Bookstore. Side note: We invited Kush onto our podcast after discovering him during last year’s Comment & Win. Full-circle moment.

Shout-out to our next Round 2 superstar, Jennifer J., 17 and a senior at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, U.S. Her narrative comment on the Global Youth essay A Student’s Struggle to Speak English was a beautifully expressed account of Jennifer’s own struggle to embrace her Korean identity.

Oh, what stories our next superstar can tell – and did! Jai P., 16 and a junior at Scarsdale High School in New York, U.S., cleverly recounted the four cities he has lived in – Jakarta, Bangkok, Tokyo and New York City – and how they directly aligned with insights and research from the Wharton Global Youth article The Business of Urban Living. Jai has lived the power of urban migration.

Katie C., 17 and a senior at Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey, U.S., gracefully drew connections to the podcast transcript, Fighting for Asian-American Representation in Media and Education. As a Korean-American in N.J., she highlighted “profound parallels” with Albert Zhou’s experiences and dazzled us with her mission to amplify her Asian presence, rather than “seeking to erase it.”

Rounding out our Top 10 Storytelling Superstars is Eva B., a 17-year-old from Canterbury School in Connecticut, U.S., who analyzed observations and data from her recent time at home in Moscow, Russia to do a deep dive into gas-price increases. Commenting on the story, Aspiring Data Scientists Research the Rise in Gasoline Prices, Eva collected data on political influences affecting global markets. We appreciated her attempt at data storytelling, inspired by the students’ economic findings.

And now, the Round 2 superlatives, recognizing noteworthy comments related to specific themes:

Best Model of Diversity Advocacy: Jamie K., 16 and a senior at Eastern Christian High School in New Jersey, U.S., for her comment on The Work of Chief Diversity Officers as They Champion DEI.

Most Likely to Do the “Delicate Dance of Give and Take:” Rana T., 17, from Emily Carr Secondary School in Ontario, Canada, for her comment on 10 Ways You can Become a Better Negotiator: “Growing up in Istanbul, I was always exposed to lively markets and bazaars filled with vibrant colours, exotic scents, and constant chatter of, you name it, negotiation.”

Best Example of Commenting Clarity and Simplicity: Triston C., a junior at Willow Glen High School in California, U.S., for his well-expressed ideas on The Minvest Mission to Empower Gen Z Investors.

Most Likely to Empathize with the AI Workforce: Yehoon P., 16 and a junior at Valor International Scholars in South Korea, for his comment on How Will AI and Hybrid Work Change Your Job?

Greatest Show of Teacher Appreciation: Mandy W., 16 and a senior at Central York High School in Pennsylvania, U.S., for her comment on our Essential Educator blog (for teachers!): Learning to Embrace Change.

Most Prepared to Pursue K-Pop PR: Jihoo H., 14, from Canyon Crest Academy in California, U.S., for her comment on the podcast transcript A Competitive Debater and ‘Big Talker’ Finds Her Place in PR.

Cleverest Narrative About Consumer Choice: Zachary N., 16 and a junior at Oak Ridge High School in California, U.S., for his comment on How the Next Generation Can Add Value to ESG Investing.

Strongest Message to Her Younger Self: Anya A., 16 and a junior at Cherokee Train High School in Colorado, U.S., for her comment and followup on the Future of the Business World podcast transcript, Fostering Gender Equality in STEM.

Most Poignant Display of Mother-Daughter Determination: Christina K., 16 and a senior at Shanghai American School in China for her comment on Professional Athlete Stephanie McCaffrey Pursues Business in Her Life After Soccer.

Best Use of Humor in a Comment: Zachary L., 15 and a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School in New York, U.S., for his comment on 5 Tips to Help You Know When It’s Time to Quit: “In my school, the staff was on a tyrannical crusade against Pokemon cards that overshadowed even that of their campaign against gum.”

Congratulations to all of our Round 2, 2023 winners and commenters! You can learn so much by listening to people’s stories. Still not convinced? Check out the Round 2 comment from Binqi Z., 15 and a sophomore from United World College of Southeast Asia in Singapore, who interviewed a migrant worker named Karla. Whether from family, friends, business colleagues, podcast guests or mere acquaintances, stories are windows into humanity and can motivate action and change.

You can also read about the results from Round 1, 2023 — theme: Anything Goes. And thanks to our collaboration with the Wharton School Press, top commenters in each round will receive your choice of e-book, written by Wharton School faculty.

Round 3, during which you must reply directly to another comment, began on Monday, July 10 and lasts through 11:59 p.m. on Friday, July 21. Visit the Wharton Global Youth Comment and Win page for all the details!