While enrolled at THINK Global School, students are encouraged to be creative during the course of their studies and travels. When the students document these thoughts, we are often delighted with the results. In ‘Never stop looking for coins in the sand’, tenth grader Sally A. uses the first-person perspective to explain why no matter your age, the world is filled with hidden treasures that make each new visit to a foreign land as charming as the last. ‘Never stop looking for coins in the sand’ first appeared on Sally’s blog, sallyalm.com
The eleventh of April. Athens has finally taken the last step out of its winter slumber with a blue sky and mellow winds from the other side of the Mediterranean. It’s the warmest day since you arrived, exactly a week ago, and you’re sweating in a white T-shirt.
You have spring on your mind. You and your companions have just found your first find of the day – actually, you found it, hidden beneath two rocks on the lonely patch of grass – and are taking a break on a small meadow close by. Chau, the leader, the reason why you’re all here, hunches down to collect a bouquet. From the tall American with the long blonde braid you learn to identify the different species in your second language. “Poppy,” you repeat in your head. “Daisies and buttercups.” The Ecuadorian girl in a skirt puts flowers behind your ears. The only boy in the group gets a single daisy stuck in his closely-chopped ginger hair, sticking straight up like the horn of a unicorn
Together, the five of you span five different continents – every livable one but Africa. Your homes are scattered across the Earth, making everything that feels familiar to you feel completely foreign to them, and vice versa. The only reason you’re all there together in Greece, which is no one in your group’s home country, is your shared wanderlust. You could have just as easily stayed at home and ignored the feeling that the world was waiting for you, that there were treasures out there made for you, and you only, to find.
You’re in Athens, Greece, and to the naked eye it might look like you’re on a sunny stroll in the city, while really, you’re on a worldwide treasure hunt.
The first memory that you can remember from your childhood – the very first moment in your life that bore so much significance that, for the first time, your brain was forced to store it somewhere within reach – was this:
Sunshine from exactly above, the sticky feeling of thin clothing against multiple layers of sunscreen.
You ran off from the picnic blanket where your mom was sunbathing to explore, but the sand and the small white stones were so hot that the soles of your feet turned bright red. You had to jump from stone to stone in constant movement so that you wouldn’t burn them. Luckily, the cliffs gave some refreshing shade, and you were just going to jump over there when you see something glitter in the sand. A diamond? Pieces of shattered glass? Anyhow, you had to find out. You made your way over, cautiously moving faster with each footstep as your small children’s feet gradually got hotter and hotter. The treasure, you could see, was made out of shining silver and gold. It was a Euro.
You had spent the rest of the vacation in Rhodes, one of the many beautiful islands off of Greece’s coast, searching for coins in the sand. Together with seashells and smooth, shiny rocks, you stored them in a little yellow bag, which you brought home on the airplane and hid carefully in your bedside table. Still, at sixteen, you have that little bag of wonders the four-year-old you collected the first time you were abroad as a proof of your very first travel memory. Evidence that this was not something that your mind had made up from stories and photographs you’ve seen and somehow formed a false experience out of but a true, solid one.
You never even once thought to use those coins, and since then you’ve sworn to always keep them. It’s so much more than just a couple of euros – to you it wasn’t money, it was a treasure; for you it wasn’t the price, it was the search.
It’s your first time back in Greece in over twelve years and you’re seeing it with completely new eyes. This time around, the long beaches and high cliffs are exchanged with ancient ruins and a big city. July is exchanged with April, and you and your companions make up most of the tourists around. Vacation has become school. Family has turned into friends.
It’s only your search that’s the same. Your wanderlust. Your treasure hunt. Even though the treasure has gone from coins to geocaches, you’re driven by the same thing. The same drive that can be found in Chau, and the blonde American, and the Ecuadorian girl in a skirt, and the redhead with a flower in his hair. The drive that made all of you head out on a sunny Saturday to look behind stones, on lampposts, and in small holes in the wall. The drive that made you take a lap around the stadium of Athens, before realizing that what you were searching for was inside and ran up a hundred rows of marble benches. The thing that made you all sit here, at the highest wall, looking out across a beautiful midday Athens. Sometimes you find something else than what you were looking for, and sometimes those things turn out to be what you wanted all along.
In your shared, peaceful silence, Chau leans over and places her bouquet of flowers in a side pocket of your bag. “Poppy,” you whisper. “Daisies and buttercups.”
You’ve long since given up on finding coins, but that doesn’t mean you should stop looking. Treasures, you realize, are all around you. Made for you and you only to find.