Thursday, December 5, 2013

My experience with Nelson Mandela started Junior year of high school with Mr. Casey.  He was an assistant cross-country and track and field coach.  I also took his African Cultures elective where we studied the geography of Africa, politics, history, etc.  We watched The Power of One in his class.

He introduced me to TIME magazine and I got myself my first magazine subscription.  He introduced me to Swahili.  He introduced me to Nelson Mandela where I learned to believe.  Believe in myself.  Believe in my ideals.  Believe that I could do something.

I had other things to do in life so I told myself I was going to visit Africa before I turn 30.  

On a trip to Salzburg, on the Sound of Music tour, I met a man from South Africa.  The first person I had ever met from South Africa.  He helped me with my luggage, I was only 20 and hadn't perfected the art of packing... we shared some smokes I and had to be out to Vienna.  When I discovered I didn't have enough money to get to Vienna, he offered to help.  Remembering my grandmother's words of advice about being too trusting, I declined.  To which he responded.  "Don't let your pride get in your way.  Pride can keep us from doing things we would or otherwise should do."  

That stayed with me forever.  I still quote him to this day and carry it with me daily.  Don't be too proud to speak up when others are not.  Don't be too proud to tell someone you are hurting.  Don't be too proud to ask for help.  Don't be too proud to do a job below your pay grade or education.  

Today Nelson Mandela has passed on and we are left with his legacy.  He had the innocence of Anne Frank and the power of Gandhi.  A hero for his people and a role model to everyone everywhere.

Please take a moment to watch the trailer for the film "Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom":

There is also a portion of the website dedicated to educational resources.  If you have children, are a role model or teacher, please consider using these educational resources:

In honor of Mandela and in order to celebrate the holidays more effectively, I propose the following:

- Do not judge anyone this Holiday season.  
- Don't think you're too cool to give money to the homeless.  
- If you're someone who brings food home from a restaurant and doesn't eat it, give it to someone who will.
- If you're someone who doesn't bring food home, stop ordering so much or cook your own food.
- Be thankful for what you have always.  
- Realize what is important not just to you but for everyone.
- Do something differently than you normally do.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of thinking.  

Use your own thought to come to conclusions. (This may be difficult)

Stand up for what you believe in.  

Do not be afraid.  

These are the ideals I have learned from Mandela.  I think it's time I go to Africa.

RIP Madiba
You will forever be in our hearts.

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