How It All Started
Years ago one of my old teachers, Mrs. Cooper, asked me to come back to Ste. Gen to talk to her classes about some of my work/travels. I had been working on a show for The Discovery Channel that took me to archeological sites in Belize and Egypt. Mrs. Cooper's students had been studying archeology so it seemed only fitting. I had lots of pictures, stories and information to share. Around the same time, my old friend Mrs. Staffen, who was now a teacher at Ste. Gen, had also asked me to speak to her students about my career as an audio mixer for tv and film. Her students were writing papers about possible future careers for themselves and I was meant to be an example of a different kind of career option in the world. I had an absolutely amazing time talking with all the students. Mrs Staffen asked me to come back and speak to the classes the following year. And the next. And the next. It became a yearly event that I really looked forward to. Each year my presentation to the students would change a little. I began speaking about important life lessons/values I learned from my career and my travels. I told the students of the factors that lead to the success in my career and being able to follow my passion for travel. I spoke about the importance of finding a passion, good time and money management, being punctual, research, sacrifice, determination, hard work, etc. After a while, I wanted to do more than just talk. I wanted to contribute more to my hometown. "But what?" was the big question.
I was already incredibly fortunate to have a vast memory bank of mind blowing experiences. I also received constant support from family and friends but I began asking "What can I actually offer that is inline with what I find most important?" "Who am I?" "Who do I want to become?" "What sort of world do I want to live in?" After a lot of soul searching about my strengths/weaknesses, intentions, goals, values, etc, an idea started to form.
Albert Einstein once said, "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." So, my goal was to find a way to motivate other "passionately curious" people to dream big and live bigger. There are so many amazing people/things in this world that can inspire someone to act. That is the sort of experience I wanted to help facilitate in my hometown of Ste. Genevieve. I wanted to focus my efforts on working with the students I had been talking to for years. I wanted to help "passionately curious" students find direction for actively pursue their dreams. I wanted to help students get out of their comfort zones in order to learn more about who they are, who they want to become, and the sort of world they want to live in. Passionate curiosity can be the beginning of change.
The kind of real change that comes from changing ourselves through learning and experiencing new things. It is important to be open to putting ourselves out there in the world to see, hear, feel, and be a part of things that are bigger (and smaller) than us. It is that sort of experiential learning that can lead to in-depth self exploration, self analyzing, and true self change. As Mahatma Gandhi said "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." After all, teaching/leading by example is a very powerful tool. The philosophy of "do as I say and do as I do" carries much more weight and brings a bigger impact than the alternatives.
I look at this project as a major investment in our future. Not only of the child's future, but quite possibly the entire world. "Many of the biggest and most far-reaching investments we make in our lives are investments that have little or nothing to do with money." Daniel Quinn. I wanted to pass on to the students the richness of life that I have gained from my own passionate curiosity, and some of the important values needed to achieve their goals. I also want the students to know that where they end up cannot be predicted by looking at where they start. Thus, The Patched Overalls Scholarship idea was born.
I would love for these students to go out and experience great things in the world. Instead of focusing on how different we are, or how doomed we may be, they might get a kick start in seeing how similar we are and the abundance of hope there is in the world. It takes those first steps into the unknown with an open mind and an open heart that will eventually change the world.
MEANING BEHIND THE OVERALLS
I was injured while on a work trip and ended up in a leg brace for a bit. I needed something to keep me busy since I wasn't moving around all that much. I had seen on my travels how people would buy patches of where they had gone and sewn them on their back packs. Now that I had the time, it was a great project to keep me busy. I bought all the patches of the places I had already been but quickly realized that a back pack wouldn't have given me enough room. Plus, I knew that I was going to keep traveling and collecting more patches from then on. I bought on old pair of overalls just because I liked them and thought it would be cool to cover them in patches. I began sewing and sewing. I now add a patch for every new country I travel to.
After a few years of talking to the students in my old high school, I decided to wear those overalls. I figured it was a quick way to get their attention. It became the symbol for how the students recognized me, and for what I'd talk to them about. When it was time to name this project it just made sense that I call it Patched Overalls.
The overalls are a perfect symbol of what I tell the students. Thomas A Edison once said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
The overalls represent the hard work I put into my passions and the rewards of that hard work are shown in my collection of patches. My overalls represent my journey.
I thought about what patches represent as well. Each patch is an experience and a story. They all add up to my overall life. Not only that, but the definition of "patched" is "Mend or strengthen (fabric or an item of clothing) by putting a piece of material over a hole or weak point in it." As we live our lives and experience things, we will at times need mending. Those experience will also strengthen us. So, we spend our lives just collecting patches in essence. Each patch represents some part of our past. The patches can represent the lessons, experiences, fun, etc that can come when we put on our overalls and get to work living life. I have to mention even the name "overalls" can have the double meaning. It isn't just clothing obviously. Those experiences (patches) don't just affect us a little, but overall can have a big influence on how we live our lives.