Prep Headmaster’s Blog: What makes a hero?

This week’s assembly focussed on inspirational people and what makes a hero. Sometimes people can feel demotivated and lacking in any drive-this has certainly been the way a number of people will have unfortunately felt during lockdown in the wider world.

We then discussed the young lady, Tithiya Sharma, who felt like that a few years ago. It wasn’t because she was unsuccessful. In fact, she had a very good job as a journalist in New Delhi, earned a lot of money, rented a fancy apartment in a fashionable part of the city and had a great circle of friends. But she was in a rut. She needed a change. So she left her job, sold her possessions and went out into the world to search for a hero.

Over the next two years Tithiya has travelled across five continents and visited more than thirty-two countries. She’s seen the life of the privileged and the struggle of the oppressed. She’s shared in the culture of people from different religious faiths and those who have no faith at all. She slept in the homes of the wealthy and ate with the very poor. During her travels she met over a hundred individuals who she would call heroes.

These heroes ranged from a social worker who organised activities for job seekers and disaffected teenagers in the notorious City of God favela in Rio de Janeiro, to the founder of The Association of Kigali Women in Sports, who uses competition to bring reconciliation to Hutu and Tutsi girls in Rwanda; and the the founder of F C Unity, which provides football-based education and development programmes for socially, religiously and ethnically mixed groups. She then pondered about the effect that meeting these heroes had had on her.

Firstly, she’s been reminded of how lucky she is to be able to travel and have these experiences. Secondly, she’s gained a new awareness of the value of people, rather than places or things.Thirdly, she’s become clear about her future career path: she will be working for a women’s rights organisation. Finally, she’s become enthusiastic about communicating the work of her heroes across the world. She wants others to be inspired just as she has been. 

But what makes a hero? Tithiya believes it’s not about the number of people who someone helps. It’s more about the quality of the help that is given. Any of us can be a hero if we help the life of one person in a really meaningful way- such as putting the pieces of the puzzle together, giving inspiration, engaging consistently in small acts of kindness, gathering separated people together, and, above all, not giving up.

We finished by watching an inspiring BBC news clip (which some of you may have seen) about retired music teacher, Paul Harvey, who is unfortunately suffering with dementia- it is a very emotional 8 min clip which shows how the power of music has helped him in life but also how his teaching inspired a whole generation of his pupils (who video conference him during the clip).
It is a wonderful example of unsung heroes, but also the impact someone’s teaching has had on so many people.


Stay safe

Simon James