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Home > Alum Wins Surfer Essay Contest

Alum Wins Surfer Essay Contest

February 8th, 2011

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Chris Beach working as a PHC Journalism major on "Soundboard Radio," their podcast

Patrick Henry College alumnus Chris Beach will soon be taking an all-expenses-paid surfing trip with a group of pros, courtesy of Surfer magazine. Out of over more than 300 entries, his tightly-written and colorful essay describing a chance encounter in Costa Rica caught the “collective eye” of the judges, as the panel explained on their website.

In the piece, Beach takes us on his surfing adventure to Costa Rica and introduces us to “Robert, the resident traffic guard” at the local bus stop. This apparently hung-over vagrant “makes his living by standing at the bus stop and helping tourists get tickets, who in turn tip him 100 or 200 colones.

“Not a bad life for an alcoholic bum,” notes Beach wryly.

Once a construction engineer in Chicago, “Robert” left everything in the U.S. and moved to Costa Rica, quickly losing himself in the country’s cheap drugs, drink, and pervasive party culture, writes Beach. And while observing the gloomy results of this man’s choices—drunken addiction and a life on the street—Beach doesn’t judge but tells a clear, succinct story, leaving readers to draw their own conclusion.

Finally riding away on the bus, Beach reflects:

“We couldn’t be further apart in life, but for one coincidental meeting, we shared a glimpse of each other’s world. Mine a world he once knew, and his a world I never want to know.”

Read full essay here.

Chris Beach, a 2010 Journalism major, is currently working as the full-time producer for Bill Bennett’s daily radio show, “Morning in America,” where he interned during his senior year. One day, he has ambitions to work “behind the microphone” in radio himself.