Mentoring in the Media: Humans of New York
Humans of New York, the wildly popular photoblog run by Brandon Stanton, highlights the extreme vagaries of life as experienced in the melting pot of New York City. Through evocative and effective communication, Stanton draws out of his subjects personal stories of triumph and tribulation, then parses the interviews into simple yet elegant snippets and a series of beautiful photographs.
The common themes that are evident through all Humans of New York (HONY) posts is truth and inner knowledge. Stanton’s subjects represent every thread of the human tapestry, and yet, he showcases the commonalities that make each story so relatable to the 12+ million followers of his Facebook page. With his unique storytelling style, Stanton strips away the superficial to expose his subject’s authentic inner dialogues, and through doing so, shows that humans are much more dynamic and similar than expected.
His recent journeys through New York introduced him to Vidal, a young student from a underserved community in Brooklyn. When asked who most influenced him, Vidal named his principal Ms. Lopez, who has gone above and beyond her duties to ensure that her scholars succeed in an environment so hostile to academic or professional advancement. This dedication and drive sparked an in-depth interview series of the Mott Hall Bridges Academy (MHBA), surveying teachers, students, and community members as to their goals, dreams, and challenges. Inspired by the incredible spirit of knowledge-sharing and active mentoring, Stanton began a Kickstarter in support of the school that resulted in over $1 million raised, a guest appearance on the Ellen Show, and a private meeting with President Barack Obama.
What has been the biggest take-away? Regardless of where you are in life, you have something to share and something to learn. As Stanton proves, every story reveals a hidden truth and a secret lesson. Your words might seem inconsequential or unimportant to you, but they can have a tremendous impact on the world if given the opportunity. Take a second look at your own unique gifts; if HONY has proven anything, it is that you are more interesting, introspective, and noble than you know. Share that knowledge with another, and you might ultimately change someone’s life.
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