HONY and the incredible world of social media

Humans of New York. I’m sure you’ve at least heard of it..

HONY started out as one guy’s adventure to document inhabitants of New York – their stories and their photographs. Thanks to social media and the interconnectedness it provides all over the world, Humans of New York took off as a rapidly expanding site of interest. Now, you can access HONY through the published book, Instagram, Facebook, tumblr, and the original blog site – with over 8 million followers on social media.

Although I love every single one of the posts and the stories they provide, one young man named Vidal really caught my attention. Vidal, a boy who attends Mott Hall Bridges Academy created a movement. Brandon asked Vidal one day who has influenced him the most, and Vidal responded “My principal, Ms. Lopez.” When he was asked why, Vidal told Brandon “When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built 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.” This really inspired me, and apparently inspired Brandon, and the world.

Brandon decided to go further, and visit the school and talk to Ms. Lopez. Mott Hall Bridges Academy is located in a really poverty stricken and dangerous part of Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York. The kids can’t play outside in the summer without facing the risk of danger, and their opportunities are slim. Ms. Lopez is a vital role model and character in each one of her student’s lives.

HONY and Ms. Lopez decided to set up a fund raiser to raise money in order to take the 6th grade students to Harvard to show them what the world has to offer, and what they can accomplish. The original goal was set at $100,000 to cover providing several years of the trip. However, between January 22, 2015 and February 10, 2015, the fundraiser brought in an astounding $1,417,984. This money will go on to provide trips to Harvard for students of Mott Hall Bridges Academy for years to come, and will be used to establish a scholarship in Vidal’s name. Vidal was provided with the opportunity to be on many talk shows and meet many influential people, including President Obama.

Not only was I extremely impressed by the amount of money raised for this school and their endeavors, but I was also inspired beyond belief. Vidal inspired me. How one young man’s actions created a trend and a huge sum of money that will be put to good use is incredible. The story of the school inspired me – a school that is in one of the most dangerous parts of New York, with little money, and a community with low expectations, overcoming the issues they face to provide their students with a very meaningful trip. Even more, Ms. Lopez inspired me. Ms. Lopez seems to be an ideal image of an administrator who cares. She doesn’t go by the written description of a principal who punishes students for bad behavior, lack of motivation, low attendance, and poor choices. She is a principal who is realistic, and encourages. She is the key to many of her students success – given that many of the student’s don’t have that type of encouragement at home.

It is important to remember that students in high poverty, high crime rate locations, need educators and administrators like Ms. Lopez to provide them with hope and set standards for their lives.

Additionally, the impact that social media has on us and the things that can be done all due to social media are amazing. Although social media sometimes gets a bad rep for causing a stir in the virtual world, it also provides opportunities such as these. Without HONY, Facebook, and instagram, these students wouldn’t be able to take the trip to Harvard, and apply for a substantial scholarship in Vidal’s name.

No matter what anyone says, we all need one another to survive, and succeed. And Vidal’s story is a prime example of humans coming together to help one another out.


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