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Torn From Parents, a Top Speller Vents His Anger

Thirteen-year-old Kunal Sah is a finalist in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and working under hardships not of his own making.

He’s separated from his parents, who were sent back to a province in Bihar State, India, after being denied political asylum, while he lives in Utah with his aunt and uncle. They have all faced the struggle of being non-white non-Mormons, which has meant pressure to convert from Hinduism to Mormonism and out-and-out racism from locals and travelers alike. And they seem to have all been suffering from “motel wars”: the family owns a motel in a town roughly halfway between Las Vegas and Denver and the competition is fierce and, apparently, unkind, although the story provides few details.

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Grant Barrett