Hi! My name is Max, I’ve been working for Aihua since August 2014. This post is about a message in bottle that travelled from China to the UK, but probably not in the way that you think…
I was teaching a story called ‘Message in a Bottle’ and I thought a nice activity to finish the class off would be to write our own messages and put them in a bottle.
In the messages the students (Coco, Sally, Mike, Tom andJack) wrote about their life in Beijing. They wrote about their family and friends, school and favourite sports. The students are aged 10-11 and all speak very good English. My co-teacher Maisi and I, also wrote a little about ourselves. In my message I mentioned that I was from Hull and currently teaching in Beijing. I also thought, should anybody find this message, I should include ways to find me. So, I left my contact details and hoped for the best.
In the story, the character throws a message in a bottle into the River Thames. So I wanted to do the same. At the time we wrote our messages, my Mum and Dad were visiting me and my girlfriend, Lauren. I asked them to take the bottle back with them to throw into the Thames. As it happened, they were travelling to London a few weeks later to watch the mighty Hull City take on Tottenham. They took this opportunity to throw the bottle into the Thames. That was the last we thought about it…
Some weeks later I got a phone call from my Dad, he was getting ready for work and listening to the radio. The signal was terrible and I couldn’t really understand a word he was saying. He rang me again when he got to work and explained that he had heard a story on the local radio about a message in bottle that had made its way from China to the River Thames. It also said it had been sent by a teacher working in Beijing from Hull.
People seemed genuinely excited by the story. A big part of me wanted to go along with the whole thing and say that the bottle had made the seemingly impossible, 5,000 mile round trip from Beijing to London. However, being the honest soul that I am, I told people the real story.
The journalist who wrote the original article emailed me and I told her how the bottle really ended up in the Thames. The next day she published a follow up article titled ‘Mystery of message in a bottle solved.’ The article explained the story and talked about the students. It also had a picture of the five students holding the bottle that I had taken when we wrote them. I have also been in touch with the lady who found the messages, and the charity that she works for. The volunteers are all writing messages to the students about their life and what the charity does. My students are also writing more detailed letters to the volunteers telling them about their day to day life and Beijing. Although the story isn’t as fantastic as it initially seemed, it’s The story on the radio was a follow up to an article in the Hull Daily Mail about a volunteer who found our messages when she was cleaning the River Thames. She then started a campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #findMaxBrown. I checked Twitter and found a lot of activity surrounding this story. People were talking about how amazing it was that these messages travelled such a huge distance and that they wanted to find me so that they could reply to the messages.still been a great experience for myself, and more importantly my students. They have been so enthusiastic and excited about what happened, and they are really eager to write more letters to our new friends in London. As the term is coming to an end it has really given them a boost. They want to learn lots of new words and phrases to use in their letters, it’s great to see! They have been showing all of their friends at school the pictures of them in an English newspaper. I’m happy to say that they have all managed to stay grounded throughout their meteoric rise to fame and the spotlight has not changed them in any way. They’re still the same happy and enthusiastic students that they were at the beginning of the term.