Community Changes Forming Global Friendships
I sprinted to the door just as the mail arrived. I wanted to be the first to see it, to hold it in my hands, just to make sure that it was really there. It was hard for me to believe that I had ever accomplished anything so interesting. I stared in complete awe as I held my certificate from Guinness World Records and thought back to how I had gotten to this point.
It was October, 2012 when I put down my personal information and clicked “submit.” I had just made a donation to Random Acts, a charity dedicated to bettering the world through random acts of kindness. This donation allowed me to participate in GISHWHES, and it felt great knowing that even if my team didn’t win, I was still helping out a great cause. GISHWHES, or the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, is an annual week-long scavenger hunt where participants must try to complete a list averaging 150 items. One of my online friends had invited me to join her team, Chameleoncircuit, and I readily accepted. Little did I know just how much of an impact one little computer click would have on my life.
After I had joined the team, I realized that I didn’t know who else I would be working with. I went to the GISHWHES website and searched for the other members. As soon as the results came up, I was astonished. There were people on my team from around the globe, and I was excited to start working with them. However, I was concerned that our distance from one another might pose a problem and make it difficult for us to efficiently complete many of the items on the list. But I was quickly proven wrong. As soon as the team was finalized, the fifteen of us started working together. We created a page on Facebook where we could talk, a spreadsheet with our contact information, and a shared document where we could put the item list. This happened within a few short hours, while the scavenger hunt was still weeks away. I was amazed at how a group of people who barely knew each other could come together and work towards achieving a common goal.
As soon as the list was posted, we all got to work on our projects. I made sure to set aside time each day in order to accomplish as many of the tasks as I could. The nature of these items ranged widely from one task to the next. They could be helpful, like rebuilding the community after Hurricane Sandy. Or, they could be humorous, like playing “Duck, Duck, Goose” with live geese. They could even be inspirational, like leaving poetry at a bus stop. By the end of the week, our team had accumulated thousands of points. It was hard for us to contain our excitement as we awaited the results.
When the results were posted, I felt momentarily disappointed at finding out that we hadn’t won. However, I also felt a fierce determination to accomplish even more the next year. So far, our team has not won the grand prize, but we have made our own impact. Our submissions and testimonials have been featured on the GISHWHES website and even published in their official Coffee Table Book. Additionally, we have collected many pledges from friends and family promising to perform random acts of kindness.
Over the years, with the aid of this activity, I have been able to explore Long Island and all it has to offer. I have gone from my hometown of Massapequa to Montauk and back. I have tried my hardest to help as many of my fellow community members and neighbors as I can, and I have been able to make many new friends along the way. I believe that this program has allowed me to be more in touch, not just with places abroad, but also with my home.
Last year, the nearly 15,000 participants of 2012 were recognized by Guinness for contributing to the largest media scavenger hunt. I am proud to say that I am one of the people who were acknowledged. GISHWHES has become something I look forward to every year. It allows me to build great friendships, donate to a good cause, and enhance my creativity. GISHWHES is something that has truly changed my life.