A Young Boy Asked For A Pencil And A Global Nonprofit Was Born

A few years ago, Adam Braun gave up a job in high finance and said goodbye to the land of men in fancy suits because of one of those random moments that tends to nudge a person’s life down the road less traveled.  Braun, in his mid-20s at the time, wanted to temporarily hop off the spinning hamster wheel of his daily grind, so he put a promising business and finance career path on hold and launched a personal expedition to go overseas. He joined a program called Semester at Sea, and what happened next set him on the course to becoming the renowned philanthropist he is today.  One of his greatest endeavors is founding a nonprofit that’s built more than 200 schools around the world, which he describes in his new book called The Promise of a Pencil that lays out his extraordinary life and opens with a starry-eyed promise.

“Every person,” Braun writes in the introduction, “has a revolution beating in their chest.”

(Source:SheKnows)

Part of The Promise of a Pencil is a travelogue that takes the reader along for the twists and turns that come with someone like Braun traversing the globe for the first time. But marking points on a map and absorbing stunning vistas aren’t the point of these recollections.  The lane changes we make in life aren’t always preceded by bright flashing indicator lights that make us stop what we're doing and pay attention. Braun, likewise, was unaware of the inflection point he was approaching. For the trip, his story goes, he decided that rather than stuff his backpack with the typical souvenirs of a tourist like T-shirts from the places he visited, he would instead approach a child in each country he visited and ask this question:  “If you could have anything in the world, what would you want most?”  He expected to hear replies of modern extravagance – a TV, an iPod and the like, with the collection of answers painting an interesting cultural topography of the world. But he got something more.  One young girl in Hawaii, who approached him and asked if they could be friends, thought about Braun’s question – What if you could have anything, what would you want? – and she confidently answered: “To dance.” During a stop in Beijing, he asked a girl near the entrance to the famed Forbidden Temple the same question. “A book,” is what she said she wanted most of all. In Kowloon, Hong Kong, a young boy told him he wanted “magic.”

While visiting the Agra Fort, in view of the Taj Mahal, Braun pulled away from his traveling companions and approached a boy he’d seen begging. The response the boy gave Braun to his question especially floored him: most of all, the boy said, he wanted “a pencil.”  Braun happened to have a No. 2 yellow pencil in his backpack. He took it out and gave it to the boy.

(Source: TheNextWeb)

“As it passed from my hand to his, his face lit up,” Braun writes. “[T]he boy had never been to school, but he had seen other children writing with pencils...For me, the pencil was a writing utensil, but for him it was a key. It was a symbol. It was a portal to creativity, curiosity, and possibility. Every great inventor, architect, scientist and mathematician began as a child holding nothing more than a pencil.”

And thus was Braun’s epiphany. Making a difference didn’t have to entail writing a large check to someone, he thought. This is what he would do, right here. He would give children he encountered on his travels pencils and pens.  Braun eventually headed home to New York. His life settled back into the familiar rhythm of predictability. One night, while attending a performance of the New York Philharmonic, he closed his eyes and listened to the pianist expertly perform a piece by Rachmaninoff, and he was moved.

“I thought, if I could feel as strongly about any one thing in the world as this man feels about his piano, I know that I would be fulfilled,” Braun writes.

The phrase suddenly came to him.  Pencils of Promise.  He stayed up all night that night sketching out a plan for the organization. Pencils are a symbol of education, and from there he landed on what would be the purpose of the organization he decided to launch: building primary education schools in poverty-stricken areas in developed nations.  The rest of his new book talks about the hard work of setting up the nonprofit. The exhilaration of its work coming to fruition is evident in things like the group’s first Facebook post, in January 2009: “We will be breaking ground on our first school in Pha Teung, Laos in March 2009!”

In a recent interview with Forbes, Braun waxed philosophical about meaning, fulfillment and the purpose of existence.  “Make your life a story worth telling,” he told his interviewer. “One day, when you’re gone, the most important thing you’ll leave behind is the legacy of the life you lived.”

(Source: Rossier Online)

In the hopes of inspiring others to do that, he wrote his down in the form of a book.

The Creation Of Us (S2:E1) – Meet Christen and Heather

Christen Samuels and Heather Fazzino both grew up in strong, opinionated, Italian families. Old school. Traditional. This made things a bit more strenuous for these women on their road to becoming a couple. In this first episode of the new season of The Creation Of Us, Christen and Heather share the stories of how they grew up, the people around them who were major influences, and the key moments each experienced that made them realize they were different.

Keep reading... Show less
Fans' Top 5 Hits

PRIDE! In Provincetown - FEC Family Week

OnlyGood TV embraces diversity and supports dignity, equal rights and self-affirmation! We are celebrating PRIDE Month by sharing inspiring stories that feature our LGBTQIA+ community.

Family Week is one of the preeminent events of the non-profit advocacy group, Family Equality Counsel. The group advocates for equality for the LGBTQ community and Family Week in Provincetown, MA is an opportunity for families to come together from all over the country to find support and community with other like-minded and alternative families.

Keep reading... Show less
Fans' Top 5 Hits
www.youtube.com

Fundraising ‘Joyride’ Puts A Positive Spin On Recent Tragic Event

OnlyGood TV embraces diversity and supports dignity, equal rights and self-affirmation! We are celebrating PRIDE Month by sharing inspiring stories that feature our LGBTQIA+ community. (Today marks the third anniversary of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting.)

After a tragedy, love, support and togetherness are needed most. Adam Keller and Jared Marinelli, best known around the world for their 'viral flash mob wedding proposal video', were deeply affected by the 2016 Pulse Nightclub tragedy in Orlando. The couple knew they wanted to do something to give back to all those affected.

Keep reading... Show less

A Dog’s Journey Home (E10) – Prepping the Pittsburgh Puppies

How do you keep 62 dogs in a van happy and comfortable on a 1,600 mile journey? In this episode of A Dog's Journey Home, Scott Whyatt, co-founder of Tracy'sDogs, shares his secrets for caring for all of these pups as they set out for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where their new, loving families anxiously await their arrival.

Keep reading... Show less

WWII Vet Runs Cross Country to Save His D-Day Ship

Ernie Andrus, now in his 90's, is running cross-country to raise money in order to put the LST 325, the ship he served on in the Navy during WWII, back on the beach in Normandy where it supported the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

This LST 325 is the only LST ship left (out of 1,051 made) that has been fully restored and still operational. Plans were initially made for a D-Day memorial service in 2014 for the ship, but it was canceled because of a shortage of finances. This inspired Ernie to start a project called, Coast2Coast Runs to raise money to honor his old ship.

Keep reading... Show less
Fans' Top 5 Hits

The Cycling Studio Flash Mob Proposal That Went Viral!

OnlyGood TV embraces diversity and supports dignity, equal rights and self-affirmation! We are celebrating Pride Month by sharing inspiring stories that feature our LGTBQIA+ community. Today we reflect on the epic Valentine's Day flash mob proposal that took the world by storm!

It was love at first playlist! Adam Keller, a JoyRide Cycling Studio instructor, took Valentine's Day 2016 to create a wedding proposal to end all proposals! Adam planned this top-secret, expertly choreographed, flash mob, cycling class proposal, asking his boyfriend, Jared Marinelli, also a JoyRide Instructor, the magic question... WILL YOU MARRY ME?

Keep reading... Show less
Fans' Top 5 Hits

The Creation of Us (S1:E1) - Trans-Activist, Influencer, and Cover Model. Meet Aydian Dowling.

OnlyGood TV embraces diversity and supports dignity, equal rights and self-affirmation! We are celebrating Pride Month by sharing inspiring stories that feature our LGTBQIA+ community.

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Aydian Dowling always felt out of place. He grew up attending Catholic school and eventually asked his parents to transfer him to public school where he could dress and act more naturally. He came out as a lesbian soon after. "I felt in line with being a lesbian. It was A + B = C." he remembers "I was a girl who liked other girls and that made me a lesbian."

Keep reading... Show less

Celebrating Inspiring People on National Cancer Survivors Day

OnlyGood TV is joining in the Celebration of Life that is National Cancer Survivor Day by honoring those who have survived and supporting those recently diagnosed. The inspiring stories that we share below are reminders that there is life after a cancer diagnosis that can be fruitful and rewarding. Here are just two stories about cancer survivors:

Keep reading... Show less
Watch and Subscribe
It's a Positivity Movement
OnlyGood TV on YouTube

mailbox

Get your Only Good TV Newsletter