As I mentioned on friday, I spent the later part of last week at TCU, on a panel, discussing the topic, “How can you better prepare students for lives of meaning?” A question and topic that inspired many amazing discussions about service, faith, and leadership. One segment that stood out as a highlight of the trip, was a piece entitled “This I believe.”
At TCU, they have asked their students to begin their first college essays as freshman writing 500 words on the topic “This I believe.” The goal is to challenge students to think about their values and their core beliefs. There is no right or wrong answer, it is simply your story. The hope is that by articulating your beliefs, that when faced with a difficult life decision, students will know the answer because they understand what it is that guides them. The stories that we heard were inspiring, amazing, full of hope, adversity and perseverance. I wish I could share them all with you here. What I can share is what I learned about This I Believe.
Believe it or not, This I Believe, Inc., is a non-profit! In March 2003, National Public Radio Executive Producer, Dan Geldman came across the original book This I Believe. Dan became intrigued with the history of the 1950s radio program based on the same name, that was hosted by Edward R. Murrow. The original radio show featured compelling essays from cab drivers, secretaries, corporate leaders as well as people such as; Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman. Anyone who was able to share a few minutes of the guiding principles by which they lived.
Dan and his co-producer Jay Allison decided to bring the series back to National Public Radio. In reviving This I Believe, Dan Gediman said, “The goal was not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”
Dan, Jay and their team at NPR brought back the topic, the radio series and then a few best-selling books. The proceeds from all of those went into forming the non-profit This I Believe. Org, which was founded in 2004, to engage youth and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives.
Today, almost a decade later This I Believe Essays have spread across the globe through universities’ curriculum, in a variety of publications, numerous local public radio stations, newspapers, and magazines all challenging us to ask the simple question. What is it that you believe?
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