Tessa Stein, our ceramics teacher at The Roeper School, grew up in South Africa during Apartheid. Tessa’s father, Abraham, was an optometrist. He had a practice in Johannesburg; however, once a month Tessa remembers that he would take-off in a van he had converted into a mobile unit for testing sight. He travelled all over the county serving blacks in rural areas who had no other access to medical care. On school vacations Tessa would travel with him. It’s no surprise that Tessa went on to work in the Townships where she helped to create an art center.
Tessa experienced the change one person can bring to the world. She described Nelson Mandela as a bright light. At the end of Tessa’s remarks, I reminded students that George Roeper asked us to be “citizens of the world.” Sometimes, the first step is to be aware of what surrounds us and to be present for the people closest to us. Then we must strive to understand the larger world and in this case a man who changed that world for the better. Thank you Tessa for sharing your life experience and helping us to better understand the impact one person can make.