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2008 China Girls Math Olympiad

2008 GMO team MSRI is delighted to be sending eight of the brightest young women in mathematics to participate in the 2008 China Girls Mathematical Olympiad. The competition was originally established as a regional competition for teams of female high school students from China and other eastern Asian countries (including Russia). China has now expanded the competition to countries from around the world, with the USA, Canada, South Africa, and Australia among the invitees.

In June the team will spend three weeks preparing for the competition at the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program offered by the Mathematical Association of America on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In August they will travel to Zhongshan, in Guangdong Province near Hong King, where the competition will be held. They will also have some time before and after the competition to travel and sightsee in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

We are grateful to our generous partners in this project, whose financial support has made the trip possible: Intel, Akamai Foundation, Mathematical Association of America, Shiing-Shen Chern Foundation for Mathematical Research, and Sunlin and Priscilla Chou Foundation.

The members of the USA team are Wendy Mu, Colleen Lee, Jennifer Iglesias, Carolyn Kim, Jenny Jin, Joy Zheng, Lynnelle Ye, and Inyoung Cho. The coaches traveling with them are, Zuming Feng, Alison Miller and Maria Monks.

The girls and their coaches will be sending regular messages and photos that we will post here. We invite you to check this page regularly and follow along on this wonderful adventure.

Read the 2007 journal
Read the 2009 journal
Read the 2010 journal


Carolyn earned a bronze medal with a score of 45
Jenny Jin earned a bronze medal with a score of 39
In Young earned a bronze medal with a score of 54
Colleen earned a bronze medal with a score of 48
Joy earned a bronze medal with a score of 48
Wendy earned a silver medal with a score of 63
Jenny Iglesias earned a gold medal with a score of 81
Lynnelle earned a gold medal with a score of 87

We are extraordinarily proud of all the girls for doing such a wonderful job representing the USA both at the competition and in their travels in China. As you can see from their reports below this was an experience they will always remember. For some this was their last year of eligibility and they will go on to college. Others hope to compete again next year as members of the 2009 team. We look forward to watching their progress as they move toward careers in mathematics.

2008 Mathematics Problems
Selected photos

Team Member Messages & Photos

Thursday, August 21, 2008
We are all leaving now. I'm not going on the same flight as everyone else, so I get to be all alone (with Maria) for 13 hours. It has been a great two weeks. I've learned more Chinese. I've gotten to see new places. I got a gold medal. Even though I'm sad to leave, I can't wait to get home.

--Jenny Iglesias

So right now we have all just gotten settled on our plane to San Francisco. Six of us are on this flight: me (Wendy), Colleeen, Joy, Lynnelle, Carolyn, and Alison. I miss Jenny, Maria, In Young, and the other Jenny already. I had a really amazing time this summer, from our nine-mile hike (now known as "THE hike") to the competition and watching the Olympic soccer game. I'm really thankful to our sponsors for being so generous and making this all possible as well as our coaches for being so awesome and supportive. Since I graduated from high school this year, I won't be back next summer (*sniff*) but I hope future teams have as great an experience as I had and I hope everyone can keep in touch. :)

--Wendy Mu

Woah... I'm on the plane flight back to San Francisco (and then Seattle) already. :( I miss all the people who aren't on our flight (Jenny, Jenny, Maria, and In Young) but I'll see In Young again in another two weeks. Some of the highlights of this trip were THE IMPROMPTU 9-MILE HIKE, In Young, Jenny I., and I searching for dinner on the first night in Hong Kong, the competition, and being able to watch the Olympic soccer game. (Not to mention my 11 or 12 mosquito bites.) Thanks to everyone -- sponsors, coaches, and CGMOers -- for making this time awesome! I hope that I'll be able to come back next year.

--Joy Zheng

Assuming our plane trip continues as planned, we are expected to arrive at the San Francisco airport in less than 2 hours. This means my second and last CGMO trip is finally coming to a close. As a second-year CGMOer, I could respond to my trip to China with a "been there, done that"; doing so, however, would be a lie. As I compare the journal entries made last year with my experiences this year, I find that the trips made last year and this year could not have been more different.

MOP instead of AwesomeMath. Southeastern China (Hong Kong, Zhongshan, Shanghai) instead of further north (Beijing, Wuhan, Xian). And a whole new group of fellow GMOers and friends.

Given that only three of the seven non-seniors on last year's team returned this year, I am extremely thankful to have been allowed to compete again this year and indeed, that our sponsors have seen fit to help make this experience possible again.

Since I will be attending college next year, this is also my last CGMO. There are a lot of things from the trip I'll miss, most of all the team camaraderie and the team members and their quirks.

All in all, the trip was an amazing one that I'll never forget. Conspiring to get Lynnelle to watch Star Wars on our plane flight. The notorious nine-mile hike. The sweaty afternoon aerobics sessions, and the student who put up with our clumsiness to help us improve. The nights Joy and I spent reading each other's fanfic. Carolyn's misinterpretation of a "pair" of people as a "pear" and the running joke that has continued ever since. My elation in finding I had won a medal (I had been sure they meant Carolyn Kim and not me when they announced "Carolyn Lee"), and the pride we felt when we found that EVERYONE on our team had medaled (Lynnelle, stop saying you're bad at math). And, last but not least, getting to see the Olympics in person (although watching both the men's team finals and women's team finals on television in a single night was great, too).

There are a few things I regret on this trip (the silly mistakes that cost me 15 or so points in total, not being able to properly say good-bye to In Young, leaving everyone in general) but my overall impression of the trip was a great one.

So this is good-bye. I'm happy that Wendy and I will be able to see each other in college, and that Lynnelle's not too far away. But for all the other non-seniors on the team (*hint hint nudge nudge*) come and join Wendy and me at Stanford.

To everyone who has helped to make this trip as fun as it was: thank you.

--Colleen Lee

Hmm. I have to say... Colleen has really good handwriting.

The trip is finally ending. :-( This has been an amazing experience for me. The intense touring of China, taking a math test, watching the Olympics, and learning random Chinese phrases.

I am severely unhappy at the thought of returning to school where normal life will resume. I will definitely miss all the people from CGMO; I feel lucky to have known them and spent so much time with them.

My one disappointment is my failure to write on only the front side of answer sheets and to write my answer on top.

However, the overall experience was wonderful and I am grateful for everyone who made this possible.

Good bye to all of you and I hope to see you again!

--Carolyn Kim

Thursday, August 21, 2008
Home at last! Photo 1 & Photo 2

Sunday, August 17, 2008
Today was our tour day. We got to go to various sites in Zhongshan. The first place we visited was the almond cake factory. We got to see how they made the almond cake. We also saw the materials they used before modern day. We then had a chance to shop and buy the almond cakes.

After the almond cake factory, we went to an art museum. We got to see some paintings and a couple theaters, but no shows. Then we climbed a hill to see a statue of Sun Yat-sen, a founder of ZhongShan.

We then went to a museum that showed how ZhongShan started up. It had fake stalls set up depicting which ones had a big start in ZhongShan.

We then went to lunch. Lunch was tasty. We got to watch an Olympic wrestling match.

After lunch we went to a Chinese garden. There were lots of Bonsai trees. All the buildings had pretty architecture. Then they had a magic show. Some of the tricks were really cool.

We then got to pack. There's nothing interesting to say about that.

We then went to dinner. We listened to speeches in Chinese. Well, actually we just guessed at what they were saying. During dinner, we made a centerpiece out of chicken and duck heads.

Since we are leaving tomorrow before the awards ceremony, we found out the awards and scores tonight:

Carolyn with a score of 45 got a bronze
Jenny Jin with a score of 39 got a bronze
In Young with a score of 54 got a bronze
Colleen with a score of 48 got a bronze
Joy with a score of 48 got a bronze
Wendy with a score of 63 got a silver!
Jenny I. (Me) with a score of 81 got a GOLD!!
Lynnelle with a score of 87 got a GOLD!!!

So our day ended well. (With a graceful fall from me down a couple of stairs.)

-Jenny Iglesias

Our long-awaited competition is now over, and after a two hour plane ride to Shanghai, ZhongShan and the aerobics, math, and fun that happened there now seem a thing long in the past. We left Jenny in the dorm to make our flight at 10:40, since the airport was two hours away. She woke up with the rest of the people in our room: Jenny, Carolyn, and me at 6 AM and said good-bye. I'm just afraid I might never see her again.

In China, we've made for more memories than I had by rolling about the house for a month during summer vacation. The hike, the sights, Ocean Park, the seafood, the names, ah the names, the aerobics, and of course, the competition.

I guess I have the disease of thinking I could've gotten a higher score, but I know it's not the most important thing. What I'll remember is the aerobics, with the initial dislike, sweat, and excitement and our eternal dislike of hikes.

And when we all go home in 3 days, I'll miss you all... Lazy, Clumsy, Booky, Sketchy, Spacey, Fanaticky, Walky-Talky, Too-energeticky, Mooey... Yeah, thanks for everything.

-In Young Cho

Wow... after everything that's happened in the last few days, I'm just amazed at life. So I survived five days' worth of planks for beds and holes in the ground for toilets... somehow got a gold medal... (still not sure how)... WENT TO OLYMPIC SOCCER SEMIFINALS... met a great-aunt I'd previously only heard of... lived in the country the rest of my family grew up in, while it was hosting the Olympics... the idea of expressing how awesome this trip has been in words is quite daunting. I'll just talk more about the OLYMPIC SOCCER SEMIFINALS. Nigeria against Belgium, Nigeria won 4-1. The stadium was huge - I could have spent the whole time just staring at the sight of so many people in one place, especially when they created a wave that went around twice. From our seats, the players looked like legos, but they were amazing to watch. That's all for now. Thanks, everyone, for making this experience so wonderful.

-Lynnelle Ye

Photos from ZhongShan
Photo 1, Photo 2

Photos from the competition
Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4, Photo 5, Photo 6

Thursday, August 14, 2008
Today was one of those intermediate days. We started with the opening ceremony, which consisted of a number of people talking at us in Chinese. Even though the lecture hall we were in was decorated really nicely, I only understood about half of what was going on. I also managed to get another mosquito bite while there, bringing the total up to eleven. The photographers milling around had a lot of fun photographing Jenny (Iglesias) because she is the only Caucasian competitor at the event. Afterwards, we went outside to take photos, although the sun came out while we were setting up and made everyone hot and sweaty. After the photos, we nominated Jenny (Iglesias) to be our representitive for an interview. In the afternoon, we had an aerobics class followed by dinner and a pep talk. Amusingly, the pep talk ended with the words "closing remarks".
Then, since none of us went to the study session, we played cards for a while and then went to sleep.

-Joy Zheng

Thursday, August 14, 2008
On Tuesday, we took a tram up to a peak, where we got a great view of Hong Kong. Along the way, we took several flights of escalators, and we were surprised by the sheer number of stores we saw; every floor we passed was filled with stores. Later that night, In Young, Lynnelle, Jenny, and I ate dinner at a Korean restaurant we had noticed the previous night while looking for a place to eat. The previous night, there was a waiting period of half an hour, but this time, we were the first ones in.

Lynnelle and I also voluntarily climbed up over 30 flights of stairs, despite our own complaints about the number of stairs we had to climb on our trip. In the process of searching for the staircase, we got a good tour of the hotel, and had a few interesting run-ins with hotel employees, none of which seemed to understand why we didn't want to go up the elevator. In the end, we took the elevator up to the 15th floor, took the stairs down to the 3rd floor (where we saw a sign warning us to be prepared to show our construction permits), then took them up to the 36th floor (which was roped off and had a security lady sitting at the top of the stairs). Then, we arrived at the team meeting, hot and sweaty from our epic quest.

Wednesday was travel day. After a buffet breakfast, the team rode the bus to ZhongShan, where we would stay in the school dorms. Admittedly, the change in living conditions between a 4-star hotel and dorms with plank beds and hole-in-the-floor toilets was a bit disconcerting, but we are slowly getting used to it.

The opening ceremony is today, and the math competition proper begins tomorrow.
I hope we're ready to do well!

-Colleen Lee

Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The girls slept in a bit later today to recover from the last two adventure-packed days of hiking and touring. We met at noon to begin the next team journey.

We first took the subway to Wan Chai station, where we had dim sum at a nice Chinese restaurant. Zuming and his family did most of the ordering, as they were the most fluent in the language. The discussion at the table ranged from the Olympics to the CGMO to word games and tongue twisters.

We then ventured back to the hotel, walked through Hong Kong park to the Peak tram station, and took the tram up to Victoria's peak, which had spectacular views of Hong Kong. (More pictures will be coming shortly!) After exploring the shops in the skyscraper on the top of the hill and taking countless pictures, we took the bus back down to our hotel, had dinner in the mall, and had another team meeting. We went over Day II of the Mock CGMO and did some practice problems to get the girls in a good mindset for the contest.

Tomorrow we'll head to ZhongShan for the competition!


Monday, August 11, 2008
Yesterday was an interesting day. We decided to visit a nearby island, Lamma Island. We took a ferry there. When we got there, we decided to go on a hike. Although the hike was extremely tiring, the views were pretty. We also saw there really big spiders, of which we took some cool pictures. In the end, we hiked about 9 miles (!!!). We were all really, really tired afterwards, but I think we were all proud that we managed to survive. Later, we had a team meeting, where we went over some problems form the Mock CGMO that Alison and Maria prepared for us.

Today we visited Ocean Park, which is an amusement park built on a mountain. It was raining, but we still had fun. Some people went on rides, and we saw some giant pandas which I thought was really cool. But my favorite part of the visit was our ride in the cable cars down the mountain. The view was beautiful.

Carolyn will finish writing about today because today was a long day.

-Wendy Mu

After Ocean Park, we had the option to go to a nearby mall to eat dinner. I was originally not going to go, but at the last minute I changed my mind. Wendy, In Young, Colleen, Lynnelle, and Alison were in the group that went there. After some confusion and indecisiveness about where to eat (there were plenty of restaurants at the mall), we went to a Japanese restaurant called Wasabisabi. The food was delicious, but after we were done eating, we realized we would probably be late to the team meeting. When we got to the meeting, we were surprised to find that everyone else was also late except Maria. At the team meeting, we decided that since most of us are tired, tomorrow's trip would be a short one. After we discussed some mock CGMO problems (as Wendy wrote), Zuming mentioned that he had obtained Olympic tickets.

-Carolyn Kim

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday, August 9, 2008
Yay for the longest plane ride I've been on in memory. It was less miserable than I thought it would be. They didn't feed us badly at all, at least. I watched Return of the Jedi on Colleen's iPod, which was kind of painful... but anything for a little cultural education, I guess.

So, some people have been teasing me about the incident which got me writing this first post-MOP entry. Specifically, some friends of my family, on their way from Japan to their home in Hong Kong, just happened to bump into us as we left the airport for the hote. What I remember most clearly about them just happens to be the scratches and bruises I suffered at the hands of the older boy (who is about 7). So I talked to them a little and... yeah, that's it. You know, this story isn't actually very interesting. I don't understand why everyone's on my case about it. On the other hand, being in Hong Kong is interesting. We're on the 30th floor of the hotel with an amazing view, and the money is pretty. That's all for now. Bye!

Lynnelle Ye

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Wow, I realized that we only have one whole day of MOP left. I will be really sad to leave, but I had a great time. Today we had 3 classes, geometric inequalities, cyclic quadrilaterals, and our choice of trig tricks or multiplicative functions. After class there was a student vs. staff ultimate frisbee game (the students won) and then we took the USEMO, or the "useless math olympiad," which included fun stuff like "mathematical astrology" (find the cyclic quads, equal segments, right angles, and parallel lines from a bunch of points), bashing inequalities with Muirhead's, and trying to do a Mathcounts sprint round in 5 minutes. It was a lot of fun. :)

I will definitely miss all of this excitement when we all have to leave on Thursday! MOP was a great experience and I am really glad I got to meet all the cool, amazing people here and I will miss everyone when I go back home.

I really learned a lot at MOP and I am excited for the CGMO later this summer!

-Wendy Mu!

Monday, June 30, 2008
Okay, this sounds cliche, but... omigosh, MOP is almost over! No, but it's true, it is.

I find it interesting that there are so many entries clustered near the end - I guess everyone just wanted to get their chance to write.

It's pretty sad that we're all leaving so soon. It's sort of tougher for me because I'm not actually one of the ones going to the GMO. Almost everybody is going to reunite in a few months but I'll be *gasp* going back to school. Oh, well. There's always next year - and you can bet I'm going to work SOO hard to be there.

I can't believe how much I've grown these three weeks - adapting to life on my own, a rigorous schedule of ALL math, reveling in associating with people who are as nerdy as I am! In a way, it seems like there was never a time when I didn't know Fermat's Little Theorem, the Euclidean Algorithm, or Muirhead's Inequality - yet all of these things I learned at MOP.

Hey, I came here pronouncing it 'emm - oh - pee'- I even learned the correct pronunciation! ("mop")

I really miss my family - every day they're doing normal summer things like going to the pool or a lake, and I'm missing it. But when I get home I won't have nearly as much math to do or nearly as cool people surrounding me. I can't wait to leave and sleep in my own bed again, but when I leave there won't be people around asking me to play games with them all the time; frisbee, set, the convoluted chinese card game.

In short: I'm going to love and hate leaving, and love and hate coming home. MOP is one of those things that you can't wait for it to start - and then can't wait for it to end... sort of.

I just lost the game.

(I know how to say (but not write) that in chinese!) It sounds like woah-shoe-luh. I'm really bad at the tones/pitches/whatevere. I guess if my goal is to go to China next year I'd better get learnin'.

Sounds like there's a party in the hall - better go! Grrrrrrr


Monday, June 30, 2008
MOP is almost over! I don't know what to think - on the one hand, I'm sad because as a senior, I will not be returning to MOP next year, and MOP is really a unique group of people - it has an atmosphere where you can learn without having to worry about "Is this going to be on the test?" Of course, the things we learn will more likely come in handy...

As Lynnelle said, we had our last real MOP test today (although we do have the Useless Math Olympiad tomorrow). In a way, this test has really brought things full circle. One problem involved number theory techniques, which we have learned through camp, while another problem was in fact relatively easy when coordinate bashed, something I've done from before MOP.

The journey won't be over after MOP, though. After MOP, we'll have a few last weeks of preparation... and then China!

-Colleen Lee

Monday, June 30, 2008
Oh... my... goodness, MOP is almost over. No more team contests... or tests... or anything. :( We had our last test today, which I of course had to do badly on, but I'm already missing the sheer craziness of four problems in four hours every other day. At this point it seems all of my thoughts are revolving around the future - summer after MOP, CGMO, next year, next year, next year. I swear, I swear, I swear, this time I'm going to practice every day. No more stagnation, no more laziness. Oh yeah, and I'll have to get better at Guitar Hero III too. Two more days and an all-nighter.. that's all we have left. And without the excitement of tests. Darn it, I feel like I ought to write something brilliant or poignant or at least interesting, but I can't think of anything. Maybe I should talk about things I've learned my second time at MOP. The main lesson, and I don't know why this didn't stick the first time, has been that practice really does improve math ability. I've solved so many problems already that I wouldn't have solved without experience gained from classes, team contests, etc. It wasn't about new theorems, it was about seeing things I already knew of in use. I'll stop blabbing now, since I really should do some math.

-Lynnelle Ye

Sunday, June 29, 2008
Today marked our last Sunday at MOP, yet the day was filled with so many events that we did not have the time to breathe in the fact that we would be saying goodbye to each other soon: some of the people to never see again. Over the last 3 weeks (yes, it's already been 3 weeks) we made friends, played frisbee together, consoled each other on terrible test scores together, and congratulated each other when our tests looked like they'd been bombed by stickers. Tomorrow marks the end of MOP tests, and I approach with a sense of apprehension as well as one of fulfillment. Perhaps this moment could last forever: Sunday night with all my MOP friends around. At least for now, this wish of mine can be true, and I bid you good night for another hectic day of MOP.

-InYoung Cho

Sunday, June 29, 2008
Today is Sunday, and sadly we still have our schedule filled by ELMO in the morning (4hr) and team contest in the afternoon, which turned out to be faster than before (the reason we all know). And we had a brief test review in the evening. Tomorrow is our last MOP test and we will be done, for tests. Although we have a busy schedule, we still managed to take time to have fun. A lot of people played frisby, and the rest were mostly in computer lab (like me). I find that interestingly, Chinese is a popular language here. Some can speak and some others are anxious to learn. There were some bad news in the weekend though and we were reminded to be more careful and not to walk alone. By far, I like MOP a lot. Have fun!

-Jenny Jin

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Today we had two morning classes and a test in the afternoon. I think that it was harder than the last one, but not too bad. Study session was really fun today. Amy, Joy, and Jenny taught Kate and me a bit of Chinese, but we both had a bunch of trouble with the pitch. After study session there was a birthday party with cake and ice cream. Today was a good day.


Saturday, June 21, 2008
Today we had two morning classes and an afternoon break. We played set mao, which was confusing for me because I had never played set before. We also had a girls' dinner at Chipotle and Coldstone ice cream for dessert, which was delicious. Many of us are now working on problems for the team contest tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Today we had our usual morning classes (including our first class with Zuming). The test in the afternoon was a lot harder than the last one, so a couple of us decided to just order a pizza from Domino's instead of eating at the dining hall. We ended up playing ghost (a word game) for a while while we waited, which was entertaining because we way overthought everything. MOP's been great so far, although with some level of sleep deprivation.


Sunday, June 15, 2008
Today was our first day off from classes. We got to sleep in! I slept through breakfast but they still had breakfast food for lunch! We played a game of contact today at lunch (contact is a word game).

After lunch we had our first team contest. It didn't go so well for our team, but so it goes. After the team round we had dinner and began another game of contact.

We played card games and watched/played chess. (Chess is a spectator sport at MOSP). We got to see the solutions to the test we took on Friday. And now I think I'm going to sleep.

Goodnight, Jenny (Iglesias)

Sunday, June 15, 2008
This Friday we had first MOP test which seemed like a breeze after the USAMO. =)

Thus far, MOP has been super exciting; meeting a group of kids with common interests, whether we're doing math or just hanging out, always involves tons of fun. There's like a constant buzz of joy hanging in the air which is easily ignited by a sudden realization and which causes a whirl of discussion and questioning. This is what solving problems at MOP is like; so different from your average high school group of students. I don't want to sound pessimistic, but I know I'll definitely be missing this experience later on.

Also, I must mention how wonderful the classes have been. Once again, there's that great environment topped off with an instructor who is enthusiastic in teaching other students. I really have enjoyed these parts of my MOP experience so far!!!