A third-grader’s school assignment arrives in Morocco after over a year at sea.
Rabat – More than a year after she tossed it in the Atlantic Ocean from the shores of the US, Vivian Byerly’s message in a bottle arrived in Morocco.
In April 2019 Byerly, a then third-grader in Susan Fergon’s class at Greensboro Day School, and her fellow classmates wrote letters to be tossed into the sea as part of a classroom assignment. Little did she know how far her bottle would travel.
Ferguson compiled the lesson after finding inspiration from the “Pirate Day” festivities at the private school in Greensboro. The lesson focused on the powerful Gulf Stream that flows off North Carolina’s coast. 2019 was the first time Ferguson taught the lesson and included the messages in bottles.
Byerly’s letter featured a drawing of a ship and an inspiring quote of her choice from an unknown author. “If you find this message, please let us know,” she wrote in her message. Lastly, she included her teacher’s name and email address, along with the school’s address, in hopes of gaining a response.
After completing the assignments, one of her classmates, Tyler Richardson, offered to toss the class’ bottles into the ocean. He had planned to attend an annual fishing tournament that May off the coast of Morehead City, allowing him to accomplish the task.
Ferguson admitted that while she had hoped for responses to each of her student’s letters, she knew the chance of any response was slim.
Shortly after the tournament, a small fishing boat named Carterican found the first bottle. After that, there were not any responses. The COVID-19 crisis kept Ferguson from repeating the assignment with her next class, adding to the lack of response.
That was until Sunday, August 2, when Ferguson received an email.
The email, from a Moroccan fisherman, said he found Byerly’s bottle and its warm message on White Beach near Guelmim, Morocco. It included photos of the bottle, the message, and the fisherman in Morocco who found it.
Now in the fifth grade, Byerly and her classmates were excited to receive the response after such a long time. Ferguson said Byerly and the fisherman have maintained correspondence, discussing the journey of the message in a bottle that traveled more than 4,000 miles to Morocco.
According to Greensboro Day School, the fisherman’s nephew translated the letter for his uncle, including the quote with which Vivian started it:
“Be strong because things will get better,” she wrote. “It may be stormy now, but it never rains forever.”
Encouraging words came in challenging times.