Hi Shasta, tell us a bit about yourself. Hi, my name is Shasta Gray, and this is my first year teaching at THINK Global School. I received my master's in teaching from the University of Alaska and have been teaching since 2012. I consider Alaska home, but I spent three years living and teaching in Thailand before joining TGS. I've always had an affinity for the great outdoors, and love...Read More
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 his essay “What longboarding for 50 kilometers feels like,” 12th grader Isaac F. reflects on his recent initiative to help raise money for prostate research by longboarding 50 kilometers (31 miles) around Auckland, New Zealand. Isaac’s efforts helped raise over $1,200 dollars for the cause.
How does it feel?
It feels good. Sometimes, when you witness beautiful, positive change in the world, you find yourself bewildered with enthrallment. It’s this familiar yet not commonly practiced out-of-body experience. Everyone around you is working together in a form of collective consciousness to achieve the desired goal. If poetry could be translated into emotion, this is it. It’s what you try to describe to your friends later, but you can tell they just can’t grasp it. You may relate to this if you have gone to peace protests, for instance. Two weeks ago, I was given a five hour long taste of this poetry when I longboarded for fifty kilometers (thirty-one miles) from Parnell to Devonport in Auckland, New Zealand.
This notion of endurance longboarding has been a lingering plan of mine for the last year. As a member of THINK Global School, we have recently been fortunate enough to have talks with inspirational endurance trekkers such as Brando ‘Wildboy’ Yelavich, Ray Zahab, and Dave Martin. These three have that wonderful “f–k it, let’s do it!” attitude that I very much enjoy practicing. Not only being a student in TGS, but also being a student of life in general (I mean I’m still only 18), it is crucial to have the experiential learning attitude meshed with my day-to-day. Ever since I started attending TGS three years and three months ago, my mentality has been to see as much as possible using my boards. Looking back at Argentina in 2012, I was able to achieve a more personal goal of locating and riding every known skate spot in Buenos Aires.
If there’s anything I would vouch for while traveling, it is to have an established personal understanding of your skills and interests, and deeply incorporate them into where you are. It makes for the best life lessons: they are on topics you care about, you befriend people in similar niches, and you learn that your skills can be grown upon in ways you couldn’t imagine. I believe that the decisions Yelavich, Zahab, and Martin made in terms of how to travel resonated with how they wanted to grow as a student of the world. In terms of this trek, it was an adaptational aim of mine to plan by means of longboarding (walking is not really my passion). It would be unfair of me to claim that experiences like those of Yelavich, Zahab, and Martin are akin to my longboard trip on the 9th of November, but what was absolutely apparent was that sense of being one with those around you.
The wheels started rolling at 10:30am with a group of five bicyclers, whom I owe all my physical success to during the day. Although we hardly talked on the move, we worked as one unit. I could not ask for a better group of friends to go with. Everyone kept in such great attitudes and energies, making the whole trek as fluid as can be. I was also really lucky to have talked with a new friend of mine, Chris, just two days before the trip. After explaining the whole plan to him, Chris offered me his board for the day. To keep things short, and mainly to refrain myself from going on about the wonderful varieties of shapes of boards there are to offer in longboarding, let’s just say the one he lent me was much more suitable for a 50K trip. I am sure that I would still have trouble walking if he wasn’t so generous.
Here’s a skeleton layout of the trip
The money raised and support for the event
To be brutally honest, I don’t know how far $1,200+ can go for prostate research, but I do know for a fact that it is quite better than none at all. The support for this event astounded me. My preliminary thoughts on organizing this event were somewhat scattered. Not knowing what to expect, my initiative was fairly relaxed and the results were still great. What I’m getting at is, it really is not that difficult to organize change. It may seem daunting at first, but when people see you try to make a real difference, they get excited. If you ever travel abroad, I would absolutely recommend making an effort to get involved in making change wherever you visit. It is a fundamental obligation of a global citizen. Actually, I would argue that it is a rite of passage to becoming a global citizen. It is what will make you rethink tourism in travel, it will make you rethink differences in ethnicity, and it will also make you rethink your own rooted cultural beliefs.