Lots of celebrations of humanity for this week’s Monday Morning Mojo! Shout outs to my good friend Christophe Solomon from Beijing, a benevolent policeman in Skokie, Illinois, a salute to James Zwerg during this Black History Month, a treasure trove of Winter Olympic stories, and an innovative library from Denmark that deserves broader attention.
Without further ado:
Christophe Solomon: Christophe is a friend from Beijing. A fantastic Frenchman working in the auto industry. He is now in living in Senegal and sent this note via his Facebook: “I’ve been living in Senegal for 3 years, and wherever I go, I see children playing soccer with sometimes a ball, but often simply with a bottle, a piece of ball of razor or a flat ball. On the other side they look because they can’t shoot in something. A football enthusiast, I’ve been buying balloons and distributing them to the kids I meet for a while. You can’t imagine the joy this brings them, they don’t believe it. They smile from their ears. They take it softly looking at me in the eye in fear I’ll take it back, then it’s off and the football game starts. When I leave they bring it back to me because they still don’t believe it. We must be aware that 95% of football players in Senegal play without any infrastructure, without any equipment. One ball and four stones to score and the game begins. Ball is the base, the rest will be secondary. However they ask me do you have any jerseys? I didn’t think of it. Below is the balloon given in a small village Sokone in the Sine Saloum. The match you see takes place on the official ground of the municipality.”
Mario Valenti: Mario Valenti is a Skokie, Illinois police officer, who was called to a gym to reprimand a young man who frequently appeared in a local gymnasium without a membership. The owners of the gym were mystified how he continued to gain access. Instead of arresting him, or restricting him from the gym, the police officer paid for a three month membership from his own pocket. A small deed that quite possibility made a world of difference. This event took place in 2017, however it was just brought to my attention and I felt it was worthy of a greater audience. Here is a news story on this random act of kindness.
James Zwerg: A shout out this week to James Zwerg on this Black History Month. I learned last week that Zwerg, who is now a retired minister, was one of 13 Freedom Riders — seven black, six white — who participated in Freedom Rides in the early 1960s. Freedom Rides were bus trips civil rights advocates took through the American South to protest segregated bus terminals. Freedom Riders tried to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters at bus stations in Alabama, South Carolina and other Southern states. The groups were confronted by arresting police officers — as well as horrific violence from protestors — along their routes, and also drew international attention to the civil rights movement. Zwerg, a good friend of John Lewis, was a 21-year-old exchange student from Beloit College in Wisconsin who became active in the civil rights movement after attending a workshop on nonviolence. As one of the two whites selected for the May 17 Nashville Movement Freedom Ride, he expected that he would be targeted for violence as a “race traitor.” On May 20, his predictions proved accurate when he was first to step off a bus and was beaten during the riot at the Montgomery Greyhound Bus Station. Photographs of a bloodied, beaten Zwerg below made headlines around the world.
Winter Olympic Highlights: There are many wonderful stories coming out of Beijing during the 24th Winter Olympic Games in Beijing last week. First, I enjoyed watching Gu Ailing win gold, and observing how she has been managing attention from all angles. If you have not heard of her, google Gu Ailing. Her story is worth studying given the state of US-China relations today, and her experience offers great lessons for all of us in communications. I love watching the diversity on the US team, specifically Chloe Kim and Nathan Chen, and their brilliance in their sports. Perhaps the most motivational stories featured the feats of Canadian Max Parrot and American Colby Stevenson. Parrot, only a few years after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer of the lymphatic system with a survival rate of approximately five years, fought through this to train and win the Slopestyle Olympic Gold. Colby Stevenson, more than five years ago was in an awful car crash. On Mother’s Day 2016, Stevenson, who was 18 at the time, fell asleep at the wheel while driving a friend’s truck on a remote highway in Idaho. He overcorrected and the vehicle rolled over several times before the roof collapsed. He cracked his skull in 30 places, suffered a severe brain injury, shattered multiple bones and was put in a medically-induced coma for three days. Last week Stevenson took Silver in Freestyle skiing and used the experience as a lesson to live and appreciate every moment in life. Below are photos of all of these exceptional athletes in order they were mentioned.
Denmark Human Library: If you have a moment check out this cool library that exists in Denmark. It is a human library which is defined as a unique social learning experiment where the books are bodies and the tales are told by the real-life characters that lived them. The library features people from all walks of life and provides a platform for them to tell their stories to anyone who wants to listen and learn. Here’s a quote from the Founder and CEO Ronni Abergel, “We looked for people that were homeless, unemployed, depressed, had mental health issues, had certain disabilities, they could help educate us.” Christian Olsen, my good friend who is also a Dane, suggested we both go there and become books and then maybe someone would finally listen to us. Check out this innovative idea in the attached video.
Just a little positivity to begin your week. Wishing you the very best.