"everyone you meet has a story to tell - a story of loss, of disappointment, of being misunderstood, of losing heart.
slow down and listen..."
as my sisters or any of my friends can probably attest, i am obsessed with this photoblog.
i follow humans of new york, or HONY as it's now been affectionately renamed, on twitter, facebook and instagram.
(what can i say, i don't want to miss a post, haha.)
the concept is simple - brandon stanton, the founder of HONY, walks around NYC and takes portraits of people.
he then posts these portraits onto HONY's various sites alongside a quote or story the subject chose to share with him.
depending on the person he encountered, these stories can range from inspirational to down right ridiculous.
he started this project in 2010 and with every year, it grows in popularity.
flash forward to january 20th, 2015 when brandon encountered a teen by the name of vidal in brownsville, brooklyn.
as customary, brandon took his portrait and asked him a couple of questions.
this particular shot along with this quote was uploaded to HONY's various sites:
(who's influenced you the most in your life?")
"my principal, ms. lopez."
("how has she influenced you?")
"when we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. she calls us to the office and explains
to us how society is build down around us. and she tells us that each time somebody
fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. and one time she made every student
stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter."
i guess curiosity got the best of brandon because two days later he posted this photo and conversation with vidal's principal, ms. lopez:
"this is a neighbourhood that doesn't necessarily expect much from our children,
so at mott hall bridges academy we set our expectations very high. we don't call
the children 'students,' we call them 'scholars.' our colour is purple. our scholars
wear purple and so do our staff. because purple is the colour of royalty. i want my
scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal
lineage going back to great african kings and queens. they belong to a group of
individuals who invented astronomy and math. and they belong to a group of
individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. when you tell
people you're from brownsville, their face cringes up. but there are children here
that need to know that they expected to succeed."
witnessing first hand the determination ms. lopez and the faculty have in arming their 'scholars' with the tools needed to succeed in life, the idea to start a fund that would give each incoming grade 6 class at MTBA the opportunity to visit harvard was derived.
an indiegogo fundraiser page was created and the link was shared on all HONY's sites with the goal of raising $100,000.
well, as of 8:46pm EST on saturday febuary 7th, this was the amount raised:
and as a result:
- the entire school is going to harvard and will be doing so for at least the next ten years.
- a scholarship fund was created to support graduates of MTBA.
the fund is named "the vidal fund" and naturally, the first recipient of this scholarship is vidal himself.
- a summer program was created to give 'scholars' a safe place to congregate and continue learning during their break.
- brandon, vidal and ms. lopez were flown out to LA and appeared on the ellen degeneres show where, on behalf of target, MTBA was gifted computers for their entire school.
<3 <3 <3
this whole story just reminded me that there's power in one's words.
something you say to someone in passing can have a profound effect on their life - positive or negative.
in one of the posts, ms. lopez shared that she recently felt like everything she was doing was in vain.
she thought about resigning as she felt like her 'scholars' didn't care and that she wasn't making a difference.
while reading her words, i thought of this particular image:
to me, this picture and ms. lopez' words stressed the importance of not giving up on a dream.
because like this picture so greatly depicts, you never know how close you are to achieving them.
imagine how much differently this story would have turned out had ms. lopez quit a couple weeks earlier...
if you have some time to spare, i definitely recommend checking out HONY's site.
many students and faculty were also interviewed and share their stories - some inspirational, others funny.
despite what we're constantly being shown on the news and other media outlets, there is still some good happening in the world.