Keith: As Shelby showed you earlier in the show, many said their final goodbyes to Nelson Mandela, but his inspiration will always live on. Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.’ Take a look at how that message changed the hearts of students right here in the U.S.
When Nelson Mandela visited Madison Park High School in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1990, the crowd went wild.
Nelson Mandela: The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.
Keith: Celestino Depina was a 16-year-old sophomore in the gymnasium that day.
Celestino Depina: He said, ‘The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.’ And at the time, that was one of the quotes that really stuck to my head. And to this day, I try to instill the same concept in my students.
Keith: Mandela’s speech was a turning point in Celestino’s life. He decided he wanted to be a leader. For him, that meant leading in the classroom.
Celestino: Okay. The word ‘freedom.’ But freedom is not free.
Keith: Now he is a history teacher at Brighton High School in Boston, hoping to be a role model in a school where more than 1 in 10 students drop out.
Born to poor immigrant parents, Celestino knows well the barriers to a child’s success.
Celestino: I used my hardships as a motivation. Today, as an educator, I tell my students, ‘well, don’t use your problems or your personal issues as an impediment for not coming to school and not succeeding in school. As a matter of fact, use that as a motivation because later on it will pay off.’
Keith: Celestino says the words and life of one of Africa’s greatest elders will inspire long after he is gone.
Celestino: And this is the person I was talking about, Nelson Mandela.
He has paved the way for others. And I think that cycle should only continue if you want to have a better world.
Keith: Many will remember how Nelson Mandela changed the world, including a kid in the bleachers who was moved to do the same, one classroom at a time.