Humans of New York and Vidal: Story as the ultimate instrument of change

As an avid Humans of New York fan, it seems like every single post leaves me with something new. I get a little peek into someone's heart and life. HONY invites us to pause just for a few seconds, and learn about someone we may be passing by. I often find myself marveling at the beauty of the commonality of just being "human", and I often open my mind and perspective into a struggle that I may not be as familiar with. 

The post on January 19th was surprising and uplifting. A young man, Vidal, mentioned his teacher as the most influential person in his life, and he describes how Mrs. Lopez respects her students enough to be straight with them and inspire them at the same time.  

Thankfully, Brandon Stanton followed up on this story. And what has followed have been life-changing weeks for this entire community - as HONY has profiled the school, everyone from Mrs. Lopez, to the teachers, to other students. These simple profiles and quotes offer an incredibly moving and nuanced perspective to the complexities of poverty, the struggle of under-served children in this country, and the invaluable role that teachers play everyday. 

All through simple quotes. Simple moments in their lives. These moments of vulnerability are truly what move us to act. Statistics and academic studies have their place. But stories and authenticity are what inspire us. What can move us to get involved, and more importantly to *see* a reality that is different than ours in a way we may never have before. The Vidal Scholarship Fund was created to send kids from Mott Hall Briges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn to visit Harvard and dream big has now raised over $1.2 million.  

If dreaming big, was the goal, I believe it was more than accomplished. The image below was on our newsfeeds today. Mrs. Lopez speaks of a renewed sense of pride and community as a result of this effort. Telling raw, beautiful and real stories in simple posts managed to move even the leader of the free world. 

I can't help but be moved that this storytelling has helped these children take pride in who they are and where they come from, as well as bring a new sense of hope for their futures. My favorite quote from Mrs. Lopez to her students: "I need you to remember that you're helping tell the story of Brownsville to people all over the world."