A college student in Tokyo lost her camera at sea nearly three years ago, expecting never to see it again. But thanks to social media, she has been reunited with both the camera and the pictures in it, after a Facebook post looking for the owner went viral.
Serina Tsubakihara is a third-year student at Sophia University in Tokyo who had been on a trip in 2015 that brought her to an island about 155 miles away from northern Taiwan. When she dropped her digital camera in the water near the island, she figured it was gone forever — until elementary school students took a field trip to clean their nearby beach in Taiwan and came across something unexpected.
Park Lee’s students at Yue Ming Elementary School discovered the camera washed up on the beach, covered in marine organisms, looking as though it had barely survived. When their teacher took the waterproof case off, however, the camera itself was unharmed. In a Facebook post, Lee chronicled his students‘ discovery and how they put together some clues to find the owner.
“It seems a bit unethical to peek at other people’s camera photos,” Lee wrote. “However, as a result of our discussion, if we could take a look at the photos, would there be any clue that we could find the owner of the camera to return to him? So we watched the photos together quickly in the whole class and got the following inferences.”
The class took note that the last photo was taken on Sept. 7, 2015, on Ishigaki Island in Japan, and that the people in the photos were likely Japanese. Although the camera had been lost at sea, the battery was fully charged, and Lee decided to post a few of the photos that were on it.
“We decided to make public photos,” the post continued. “The most important thing is that we hope to find the camera owner. It is best to have Japanese media friends. You can help the report and let the owner see the news to find us. Maybe we can return the camera to them.”
Just 12 hours later, the teacher’s post had been shared over 10,000 times, catching the attention of Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Japan, Frank Hsieh, which brought the viral post over to the university student’s country — and soon after, directly to Tsubakihara herself.
“The camera crossed the border,” Tsubakihara wrote on Facebook after getting in touch with Lee. “I can’t still believe this is happening but the only thing I want to say is thank you so much for every single person who was involved with this! I am so lucky and happy to have such a wonderful experience to feel the kindness of people. Borderless.”
In addition to getting her precious memories back in the form of her recovered photos, Tsubakihara is planning a trip to Taiwan in June to visit Lee and his class.
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