Quarry Life Award: the journey

It was the last day of June, when my former form teacher came to me with an offer to join a project of some of the older students and help them with creating a map. Those, who already know me, know for sure that I couldn’t resist accepting the offer and the challenge that went along with it.

First struggle came right after me and Jerry, who would work on the map with me, had joined the team. We both wanted to help and create a glorious map, but turned out, we didn’t know how. Our GIS skills weren’t that great, we only made a few maps before, all of them quite easy maps of Europe, using given data and not even changing them too much. However, now, there was a far bigger task ahead of us.

The aim of our project in general, was to build a lookout over the Opatovice Quarry. On the lookout, there were supposed to be information boards, an insect house and a map. The map we were supposed to create. It should portray all the hills and significant places you can see from the lookout and it should be easy to read from. We spent two months discussing, making plans and concepts, designing and redesigning the map and taking advice from our geography teachers, who had helped us a lot.

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After we’d finally finished the map, we were already a full part of the team, which means we had to (and were willing to) help with the project way more. We managed to build the lookout, create the content and design the information boards themselves, build an insect house, creat an online photo gallery for teaching at our school and for the people and we also decided to present all the results of our work on an exhibition.

Between my friends and acquaintances, I’m pretty much known as the one, who wants to be a journalist, so I guess it’s no surprise that I was also chosen to be the one who will present the whole exhibition. When I was standing on the stage in front of full assembly hall of our school, I didn’t feel any nervosity, however when I was about to start speaking, a whole wave of panic hit me. Suddenly, my knees started to shake and my palms were sweating. Our teacher handed me the microphone and I started my prepared speech. And, as quickly as it came, the nervosity was all gone. I knew I know my speech and there’s nothing to worry about. Not even the tons of eyes staring at me. That was one of the moments when I realized that I had probably chosen the right path to take.

Our exhibition was a big success, but it was still not the end of our tough work. We planned an official opening of the lookout and it was just on the day when a filmmaking team of the contest came to the quarry to shoot some bits and pieces for a video, which will present the whole contest and its projects. Every team had to choose one member, who would give an interview to the filmmaking team. And once again, the rest of the team decided that it should be me.

I stood in front of the camera man and director and I got that tiny little microphone. Since it was also the opening of our lookout, there were a few people, most of them officials of the quarry, all of them standing behind the camera, watching me.
“I’m just going to ask you a few questions, try to give me a detailed answer and most importantly, don’t worry. We can always shoot in one more time, if you screwed up. Speak loudly and clearly, stand still, but not uncomfortable,” told me a young woman – a journalist – who was about to interview me. She seemed really nice. We did the interview, it went well – I screwed just one time, when I forgot a name of some flower we found in the quarry, but the director said he doesn’t even need to shoot it twice, because he has enough material. I handed them back the microphone and went to see the rest of my team. They told me I did great and I was only glad that I didn’t disappoint them.

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Then, I left the group and stood by, watching the people and just thinking about the interview, because I was still feeling kind of weird – I mean, how often you give someone an interview? – when the woman, who was interviewing me came.

“Hello,” she greeted.
“Hello,” I said, a bit surprised by the fact she wants to talk to me.
“You did like actually really great, not everyone can speak like that for the first time in front of camera.”
“Oh, wow, thank you.”
“One miss from the quarry told me that you would like to study journalism, is that right?”
“Yes, it is. It’s kind of my dream… or plan, depends on how you call it,” I smiled.
“Well, I think that is a great idea, because from what I’ve seen and heard, you’re very talented.”
“Really? Thank you, I appreciate that.”
“You know, I also studied journalism. In Brno. Then, I worked for the Czech Television for 12 years and now I work as a spokesperson for the ambulance.”

In that moment, I froze. Are you telling me that you’re that experienced and you think that I’m talented? Pinch me!

“Really? That’s so cool.”
“And… because I think you’re really good, I could give my business card and if you’d like to, I could show you around the spokesperson office and we could maybe even discuss some fellowship.”

WHAAAAAAT?!?

“Like… for real?”
“Yeah, of course. You can ask me whatever you want, no hesitation.”

And so, my dear readers, that’s how I got to talk to Hedvika Kropáčková, a journalist and current spokesperson for the Czech ambulance. And got her business card and an offer for an office tour and a possible fellowship. Pinch me twice, is that not a dream?

However, moving further. We had to put all our results into 10 pages to make a final report. Everyone wrote a bit, me, Jerry and our teacher gave it all together and on the 30th September, we send it. No coming back. No hesitation. Now it’s only about the judges.

Finally, yesterday, we went to the national ceremony. I’ve felt like we maybe could win the contest, but as soon as they introduced the other teams, I didn’t believe in us anymore. The other teams were focused on the scientifical side of the quarries and all of them were university students. Who are we – high school students, who built a lookout – compared to them?

“And the winner of public vote is… Quarry Exploration Trail!”

Well, at least we won the public vote, now we have at least some kind of reward…

“And the complete winner of Quarry Life Award 2016 is… QUARRY EXPLORATION TRAIL!”

Wait. What?
WE… whaat?
I looked at our teacher. She looked at me, eyes wide open in shock.
“Did we just…” she asked
“…win?” I completed.
“OH MY GOD!” someone else yelled.We did it. We won. I couldn’t believe it.

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I was, am and always will be, incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this. Not only that it was a lot of hard work, it was also something I became very passionate about, something that made me proud of myself and something that showed me that anything is possible if you have enough nerve.

And our victory taught me one more thing. No matter how old you are and how experienced, how old or how educated your opponents are. All that matters is what you have inside you. You should have respect to your oponents, but you mustn’t fear them, said our headmaster once. And it is true. We may not have done the most scientific research and we may not had our final report on 60 pages, but we won with our hearts. We were passionate, we worked really hard, we created something valuable and most of all, we did it for people. Ordinary people just like we are. No one is going to remember, who won the Quarry Life Award in 2016, but at least someone will remember that the lookout, which they are standing on right now, was made by a bunch of passionate and hard-working students, who made their dreams come true.

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