PHOTO: Liliana Sandberg plans to attend Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she will major in marine biology. / Photo submitted
By JOHN McBRYDE
The announcement came on Earth Day, an appropriate time for Brentwood High School senior Liliana Sandberg to learn she was the winner of a writing contest co-sponsored by National Geographic with the theme centered on the pollution of the oceans by single-use plastics.
Sandberg, who had trouble enough believing she was one of 10 finalists who were announced back in early January for her short story titled “Ouroboros,” said she never imagined her entry would go beyond that level.
“I was blown away,” said Sandberg, one of nearly 6,000 people who entered their fiction or nonfiction pieces in the fall of 2018. “I thought I had taken it about as far as I could.”
The judges thought differently. “Ouroboros,” a science fiction story that tells about a whale name Coda-9994 who is searching for a new home after his is overrun with plastic waste, even gave one of the judges goosebumps.
Sandberg had learned about the contest co-sponsored by National Geographic and an organization called Wattled and decided to enter. The contest used the hashtag #PlanetorPlastic, and welcomed entries that were either fiction or nonfiction and limited to 500 words.
Sandberg was led to enter the contest because of her passion for the ocean. She is deeply concerned at all the damage that plastic waste is causing to the seashore, and wanted to let her feelings known.
“I love the ocean more than anything else in the universe,” she told the Home Page earlier this year, “and to see what’s happening to it … makes me really angry.”
Sandberg, who was recently recognized by the Brentwood City Commission, said her family has stopped using single-use plastics whenever possible, whether it’s straws, water bottles, plastic bags or plastic utensils, and she hopes word of her short story and her winning the contest will have an impact on others to do the same.
Not surprisingly, Sandberg will major in marine biology when she attends Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, later this summer. But she also wants to keep writing.
“I plan to turn ‘Ouroboros’ into a novel,” she said.