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The Underwater City

by Mariana Gordan

My dear reader,


I must tell you this true story of what happened to me a long, long time ago when I was ten years old in Romania, a country far, far away in Eastern Europe.

Our art teacher came in one day and announced to the class that a nation-wide competition was being launched for children to create an original design for the City of the Future "Year 2000".

I should tell you that this was the very first time I realised that I was free to imagine whatever I wished to see be built in the future! It was a turning point for me to discover that I could dream out anything at all! It was exciting, my dear friend, to feel 'free'...and it took me some time to calm down before getting to work!

I began drawing an underwater city inside a large glass cupola in a shallow sea. The city was linked to dry land by transparent tubes, waterways to be used by amphibious cars, with docking stations like the ones in the space age films I’d seen.

The buildings looked like huge step-pyramids glazed with solar-panels which would produce electricity.

The foreground of my painting was a view from outside the glass walls of the city, depicting tall seaweed, fish and bright coral reefs.

As the teacher came around to collect our design, she stopped at me and said:

"Gordan, did you copy this from somewhere?"

“No, Miss”, I replied, “I did not. The docking station is inspired by Space travel films. My father told me about the amphibious cars designed to drive on dry land and sail on water..."

Then my teacher said:

“Ok, I know all these, but where did get these solar panels from, since to my knowledge they have not been invented?"

“Oh, that is easy Miss. Our father showed my brother and me during our survival-in-the-forest adventures how to light a fire with a help of a magnifying glass. So I’m sure that in the future someone will make panels with many, many tiny bits of magnifying glass together and find a way to capture the electricity from the Sun”.

The teacher was so impressed with my simple, yet applied thinking, that she selected my drawing for the national level of the competition (which I later won, by the way!)

My real gain out of this was that I have discovered for myself, not from other people stories, that Imagination can help me find simple solutions to big problems, like energy, from everyday life.

I did not know I could do that. It felt amazing!

From then on I knew what I was going to do in life. Do you wish to know what that was? If you do, just ask and I’ll answer ...