Finding Hidden Treasure
Finding Hidden Treasure
  • 경남타임즈(경남대학교)
  • 승인 2024.03.22 15:53
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By Wyn Owen Jones

Assistant Professor of Division of Undergraduate English Education


 As I was walking with my friend around his new apartment complex on a crisp winter’s morning, we found an area for discarded items. It was mostly old furniture. One item intrigued me, so I took a closer look. I found an inflatable boat! I said to myself, “One man's trash is another man's treasure". This is a popular English idiom that carries the idea that something that one person considers worthless or unwanted may be highly valued or useful to someone else. It suggests that individual tastes, preferences, and needs vary greatly, and what one person may throw away, or overlook could be cherished or sought after by another person. I was certainly going to cherish this old boat and looked forward to using it in on the local beaches when spring arrives.

 Looking back, I’ve often taught this idiom in my English classes when covering the topic ‘Prized Possessions’– the items or objects that hold special significance in our lives. Students were encouraged to explore the concept through personal anecdotes and reflections. One by one, students would share their own stories: a worn-out baseball glove from an important childhood game, a faded photograph of a beloved pet, a fragile copy of a favorite book passed down through generations, etc. Each story was a testament to the power of sentimental value and the significance of objects in our lives. However, as with the boat, it was clear that the values we place on items often sway and shift with the passage of time.

  An item that was once cherished by its original owner can become unwanted but can also find new life and purpose in the hands of another. Consider Carrot Mart, a peer-to-peer application gaining popularity in South Korea amongst the younger generations. It offers users a platform to buy and sell second-hand goods locally. This app has been particularly useful for foreigners like me that come to live in Korea and at some point, prepare to leave. Buying items new when only planning on staying a short time can seem wasteful. Selling items at the end of our stay can help to offset the cost of the original purchase. There’s also the environmental aspect of recycling used items that can also be a motivating force when trying to live more sustainably.

 Furthermore, I’ve found Carrot Mart as a useful prompt for casual English conversation with my students to share experiences about items we’ve exchanged. Here, the mundane of buying and selling items transforms into the extraordinary as each object carries a story, a history waiting to be unravelled. Students seem excited to share their stories and often push their English ability a little further by doing so. As technology often drives societies more towards contactless interactions, I can see that these more personal interactions seem refreshing to them and help create a sense of community. What begins as a simple exchange of goods can evolve into meaningful connections and shared moments of joy, perhaps even new friendships.

 Beyond material possessions, the concept of "one man's trash is another man's treasure" extends to other parts of our lives that are less tangible. Ideas that are dismissed or overlooked by some may inspire and ignite passion in others. In the creative realm, artists and innovators thrive on this principle, finding inspiration in the overlooked and the unconventional. Similarly, talents and skills that may go unrecognized in one context can be prized and celebrated in another. The individuality of each person's abilities ensures that there is always someone who values and appreciates what others may overlook. I see this as an important message to our students; to not be disheartened or dissuaded in their abilities or thoughts when faced with obstacles, but to persevere and remain resilient.

 Finally, this phrase speaks to us on a deeper level about the richness of human relationships and celebrates the value of everyone and their unique perspectives. It can remind us that amidst the complexities of human interactions, there is beauty in diversity and nuance in understanding. It challenges us to think critically and look beyond surface judgments to discover the hidden treasures that lies within the seemingly ordinary that surrounds us every day. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

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