By Joanne Burns, Head of ES International School, ASC Barcelona
Sam Bencheghib is an environmental activist who just completed an ocean to ocean, six month, 3,000+ miles run across the United States, from NYC to LA, in order to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans.
Sam is an ESIS / ASC Class of 2015 Alumni. In his senior year at ESIS, he was the President of Student Council, and worked actively to promote environmental awareness and other worthy causes through his role. Notably, while still in 11th grade, he organized a ping-pong tournament for Haiyan, with the proceeds going to victims of the Typhoon that struck earlier that same year. Then only 16 years old, Sam petitioned the Head of School at the time: “When I heard that more than 10,000 people were feared dead, whilst over 12 million people have been directly affected and 1.9 million people have become homeless in the aftermath of the typhoon and do not have a bed or roof to sleep under, I wanted to utilize all my resources in order to make a change, to somehow help those millions of people.”
Sam’s efforts to help those in need and raise awareness about the environment did not end when he left ASC. Alongside his brother, he cofounded Make a Change, while still playing College tennis at LeHigh University. His first big initiative involved travelling with his brother on plastic bottle kayaks down the world’s most polluted river, found in Indonesia. The media attention their efforts received inspired Indonesia’s biggest mass cleanup of that same river, proving that one person’s efforts truly do make a difference.
His ocean 2 ocean run started on July 26, 2019, and finally finished on February 1, 2020. “It’s hard to put into words what finishing this 3055 mile journey across America and jumping into the Pacific Ocean feels like. It definitely wasn’t easy to get there but despite all the obstacles along the way, physically, mentally and emotionally, it was a life changing experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” says Sam Bencheghib.
After speaking and engaging with over 8,000 people face-to-face along his journey, from students, small town mayors, business owners, to state governors, he knows that there is still a lot to learn about the plastic industry in the United States, and the lobbying behind it.
Sam wrote to us at ASC and ESIS this week with an update on his journey. I recommend you watch the video links he provides in his message below – they are worth the minutes of your time! Take a moment and live the experience that Sam has dedicated himself to over the past six months.
“I finally finished my 3,055-mile run across America last Saturday, Feb 1st, and what an incredible feeling it was to jump into the Pacific Ocean after running 20-30 miles a day miles for 6 long months !!
After a week of reflection, it’s hard to put into words what finishing this journey feels like. There were a lot of difficult moments, from the extreme weather conditions, the crossing of the Rockies in Colorado, to the injuries, to the general exhaustion physically, mentally and emotionally… But despite all these obstacles, this run was a life changing experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I learnt so much about the plastic industry in this country and the lack of awareness, education and action going on when it comes to plastic.
The Grand Finale last Saturday was a beautiful event with 200+ people. Surrounded by friends and family – we organized a big beach-clean up as well as a run-along for the last 3 symbolic miles where 70 runners from the Adidas Runners community joined me.
I’m also attaching a press release below with some information on my run – I am doing a big media outreach to continue spreading the message of protecting our oceans and would love your support. I am excited to begin working on a documentary about my Ocean2Ocean run and can’t wait to share a trailer with you very soon.
Finally, a nice touch to end this run, I participated in a contest along with 28,186 other applicants to win a free apartment in NYC for a year from YouTubers Ryan Serhant, Casey Neistat and DudeWithSign – and I WON! I’m still processing the fact that I won this contest. Here is a fun video (link below) about the day I found out I won. I’m beyond excited to move to NYC starting next week to bring Make a Change to NYC and focus on building our environmental media company NY branch.
Let me know what I can do to help! And would love at some point in the future, to come speak in Barcelona!”
Sam knows he’s always welcome in his old home in Barcelona. As a campus actively working to eliminate plastic, we honor his legacy, and his achievements, and work hard each day to be responsible with the environment. Thank you, Sam, for being an example for us all to follow. We look forward to welcoming you back to Barcelona soon.
Head of ES International School, ASC Barcelona