“My name is Brandon and I began Humans of New York in the summer of 2010. I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers….” Brandon Stanton
If you’ve never heard of Brandon Stanton or “Humans of New York,” take a look at his website to see what happened when he interviewed a young man, 13 year old Vidal Chastenet, on the streets of Brooklyn. Brandon asked him who the person was who had most influenced his life, and he responded that it was his school principal, Ms. Nadia L. Lopez, of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Brandon Stanton continues: “…and plot their photos on a map. I worked for several months with this goal in mind, but somewhere along the way, HONY began to take on a much different character. I started collecting quotes and short stories from the people I met, and began including these snippets alongside the photographs. Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog. With over eight million followers on social media, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City. It has also become a #1 NYT bestselling book.”
What happened after he interviewed Vidal is awesome. Vidal talked about Ms. Lopez, how she made the students in her charge feel they mattered; their lives were important; they could have a future. Ms. Lopez longed to take these underprivileged kids from this tough neighborhood on a field trip to Harvard, to show them where they could go if they could dream big enough. Ms. Lopez needed to raise $100,000. Brandon posted the interview on his blog, and over a million dollars was raised, worldwide. Ms. Lopez, Vidal and Brandon appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and lives were changed. You can see the YouTube video of Ellen, Ms. Lopez, Vidal and Brandon and I guarantee you, it will make you realize, once again, that teachers are, frequently, the most important people in our lives.
Having said that, I’m hoping that one teacher pops into your mind. For me, it was Mrs. Hearn, my English teacher at So. Pasadena HighSchool (California), who told me I had a gift for writing.
Teachers are amazing people who love the children in their classes, pray for them, use their own resources to provide supplies some kids simply don’t have. I would not be the person I am today without most of the teachers I had the good luck or God’s blessing to encounter. If you can, see if you can’t make a contribution to the school where they are doing their best to change lives. You’ll be glad you did!