Students help others discover buried dreams

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - What would you like to do before you die? Four Canadian college students are on a mission to help people find out.

The students, who were inspired by a poem, have compiled their collective list of 100 goals and have set out on a two-month, 10-city U.S. trip dubbed The Buried Life Tour to accomplish them, and to help 100 strangers fulfill their dreams.

“I think our main mission is to ask people not to be afraid of living life and not to be afraid of challenging themselves to go after the things they’re most passionate about,” Jonnie Penn, 20, said in an interview.

He started the project in August 2006 with his brother Duncan, 23, and friends Dave Lingwood, 21, and Ben Nemtin, 23, as a way of discovering their passions in life.

The idea originated from an 1852 Matthew Arnold poem entitled “The Buried Life.” The quartet from Victoria in British Columbia are traveling in a retro 1970 purple bus and are filming a documentary about the project.

“The name of the project is called Buried Life because everybody has these big dreams they hold so dear,” said Penn.

“But it’s so easy in this modern world to get buried and forget (about them).”

Their list of “100 things to do before I die” on their Web site ( includes kissing the Stanley Cup and partying with a rock star, which they’ve done.

They are still trying to dance with television host Ellen DeGeneres, throw out the first pitch at a baseball game and compete in a soapbox derby.

“The list of 100 is a million times more fun than the best video games ever made,” said Penn.

Going to space and running a marathon are considered some of the more difficult things to do. Their biggest challenge to date was getting on the red carpet for the MTV Video Music Awards.

“This event was the equivalent of Fort Knox,” said Penn, referring to the high security site where a large amount of the United States’ gold reserve is stored.

“It’s impossible to get inside. But we bought four matching women’s suits from a thrift store and walked the red carpet as if we were celebrities.”

They came up with the idea of helping 100 strangers achieve their dreams as a way of countering their generation’s apathy.

“Our generation should be asking what we are going to do before we die.” said Penn. “What are the problems our generation are going to solve?”

Giving $100 to a waitress to help her learn how to type so she can finish writing a book and helping a security guard get to next year’s NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) race are among the most memorable moments.

But they said it is about more than giving people money.

“You can give a helping hand by being yourself and having that conversation (about people’s dreams),” said Penn.