Ben Nemtin of MTV's "The Buried Life" Inspires Students at Convocation
Ben Nemtin, from MTV's "The Buried Life", spoke at Convocation on Oct. 19 in Branscomb Auditorium on the campus of Florida Southern College.
The entire cast of "The Buried Life" entertained students in any evening performance on Oct. 19 in Branscomb Auditorium.
LAKELAND (Oct. 19, 2011) – Finding distant relatives in Barbados? Competing in the Ironman? How about taming wild tigers or becoming a US Senator and changing the world? Those are just a few of the things that Florida Southern students say they want to do before they die. And according to Ben Nemtin, who celebrates doing what you want to do before you die in his TV show The Buried Life, those dreams are not far-fetched.
“You can do anything you want to do,” he said today from the stage in Branscomb Auditorium as he delivered this year’s fall convocation address to FSC’s students, faculty, and staff. Nemtin delivered a powerful convocation message of hope and inspiration and the reward of “giving back” to others as you make your way through life.
On a campus where service learning is nearly a way of life, Nemtin’s message resonated well. Of his newly-found success and ability to help others along the way, he said “I made a conscious decision to surround myself with people who inspire me.”
Nemtin’s The Buried Life is a reality show that is in its second season on MTV. In 2006, friends Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn and Jonnie Penn decided to make a “bucket list” of the 100 things they wanted to do before they died, and set off in an RV to start crossing some of those items off the list. Their project began with a website that quickly attracted international attention. It grew to an extensive online community with people participating in more than 139 countries.
Originally from Victoria, British Columbia, the foursome pulled a borrowed 1957 Dodge Coachman RV out of a field, bought a secondhand camera for $100 on eBay and hit the road for two weeks to film themselves as they made their wish-list of dreams come true. That list eventually included playing basketball with Barack Obama and sneaking into the Playboy mansion by hiding inside a birthday cake.
Nemtin told the crowded hall that the project helped pull him out of a depression he found himself in after his first year of college. “I was an overachiever. I worked too hard. I asked myself, ‘What am I doing?’ I realized I wasn’t doing the things I wanted to do.”
Nemtin dropped out of college. He said his friends “came and brought me out of my house,” and it was then that they started talking about all the things they wanted to do before they died. “We started talking on Skype,” he said. “We wanted to make a film we could show our friends and be proud of.”
The project was so successful that The Buried Life was able to raise money to help others do the things that they wanted to do before they died, as well. In mid-2008, MTV helped the team check off No. 53 on their list – Make a TV Show – by capturing the four in a reality show.
The name, The Buried Life refers to a poem written in 1852 by British poet Matthew Arnold, in which he says our daily life becomes so cumbersome that our real life becomes buried – and we each have a longing to live our “buried life.” Jonnie Penn studied the poem in an English class at the time the team was formed, and soon the name stuck.
FSC student Mike Czenszak, a junior from Pennsylvania who plays for the FSC baseball team and who also is a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, introduced Nemtin at Convocation. It was through Czenszak’s hard work and tenacity that The Buried Life came to FSC.
Czenszak told the crowd, “Personally, these four guys and this TV show have inspired me and have reached out to me in many different ways. The Buried Life’s first season aired the fall semester of my freshman year here at FSC and immediately began to become something more than just a show. Because of this show, I was determined to pursue my dreams, not hold anything back, and dedicate myself to live life to the highest possible measure. Since the show aired, I have created a list of my own including cage diving with sharks, skydiving, and practicing with the Phillies for a day. This crew has taught me so many life lessons including giving back to others and achieving what you want most in life. I was so inspired; I felt that the Florida Southern community also needed to hear their stories. After two and half years of perseverance and a little bit of luck, this convocation became possible. Like Ben says in one of their trailers, “These lists are our lives, they define us, they bring us together and in them we share our dreams, our successes, and our inner most desires. Sometimes all we need to make them real, is a little help.”