7 April, 2017
Harry Belafonte the affable Carribean singer is one of my favourites. Lately I was reading a beautiful article Harry and Sidney: Soul Brothers. It was written on the occasion of Sidney Poitier’s 90th birthday in February. Coincidentally Harry Belafonte turned 90 on 1st March 2017. It was an ode to and appreciation of the friendship between two Hollywood royals.
Poitier and Belafonte didn’t meet until they were 20 years old, and yet Belafonte still considered Poitier his first real friend in life. As Belafonte put it, he lived a “nomadic” life as a child, shuttling back and forth between New York and islands of the Caribbean with his mother as she searched for work. “I did not get rooted long enough to develop what many people have the joy of experiencing, and that is childhood friends.” The two men met at the American Negro Theatre, where Poitier worked as a janitor while studying with the company and where Belafonte worked as a stagehand. This was where they became performers.
The two men quickly broke through to each other, in part because they had so much in common. Not only were they the same age, they were both born to parents of West Indian heritage. They shared the charmingly ordinary experiences that young friends share, like sneaking into the theatre on the same ticket, each seeing half of a show, then filling each other in afterward on the half the other had missed. They called it “sharing the burden and the joy.” And yet, by leaning on each other, supporting each other, pushing each other, and yes, competing with each other, they would both find tremendous popular success. Each man often took roles that the other had turned down or didn’t get.
There are varied reasons I wish to narrate this story over here as we end yet another scholastic year. If we look back, we have achieved much during the year holding each other’s hand, nudging one another, leaning on each other. Above the din of myriads of activities at Don Bosco Matunga – study, sports, jubilee celebrations, inter school competitions – we need to remember that something precious was happening in the quiet background. There occurred nurturing of friendships, cementing of bonds (educator-pupil, pupil-pupil, parent-educator, parent-pupil), and evolvement of stakeholders in stature, strength and wisdom. These experiences have left behind in their wake countless stories of success and challenges. We were happy to “share our burden and our joy” with each other.
The annual day celebrations that witnessed ‘Our story’ warmed the cockles of our hearts. Just sitting and reminiscing the past, listening to glorious testimonies of one’s association with the institution- some choked with emotion, others elated at sharing their experiences while still others who just revelled in all the richness on offer with pride and gratitude, and rejoiced at their bonding with this large family called Don Bosco. Don Bosco is a brand that is peerless, and our association with it make us famed and coveted – and many will vouch for this fact. However, the converse is true too. By our deeds and example, we make Don Bosco great. When tennis ace Roger Federer won the Australian Open for his 18th Grand Slam title in January this year defeating Nadal a headline caught my attention “Roger Federer is peerless but he and Rafael Nadal have made each other great.” Don Bosco is unparalleled. However we can be wonderful ambassadors as much as champions to take forward the Salesian educative legacy and make Don Bosco greater. To this end, each of us at Don Bosco Matunga have tried to play our role and did our bit. Succeed to a great extent we did, and we thank God for the graces received to achieve our goal and live our vision. We march ahead with a spring in our step, firm belief in our potential and proud of our ‘Bosco’ inheritance!
Happy and a relaxed summer vacation to all!
With every good wish,
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
30 January, 2017
At the onset of a new year – or for that matter, any new venture – each of us nurse a secret anxiety: What’s in store for me this time around? We sure do have our plans, our dreams, our resolutions and expectations. Yet the disquiet lingers.
Here at Don Bosco High School, Matunga, we have our goals and targets defined for the new year. Part of these lie in the plethora of activities and events lined up to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of the school before the curtain is brought down on the celebrations in November 2017. The Jubilee year is a special and significant one for us here at Don Bosco, and we are fortunate to be a part of the celebrations to mark the 75 years of the presence of the institution at Matunga, Mumbai. The school embarked on the Jubilee celebrations on 16th Nov 2016 at a grand curtain raiser that featured a number of students and the entire staff of the school. The Chief Guest at the program, Fr. Godfrey D’Souza, Provincial of the Salesian Mumbai Province, acquainting the students and the gathering with the 75-year long history of the school said’ “In classrooms, the destiny of the nation is shaped. Schools create self-dependent adults and enlightened citizens.” Don Bosco Matunga upholds this belief.
I wish to go back to where I started. Our dreams. Our hopes. Our plans. A short account will not be out of place. We may not be as strong or as resolute in our approach to the new year and new beginnings as the prompting goes. But it may help us to stop and think. In a powerful letter, poet Calvin Smith pens his hopes, dreams for his future black son. He speaks about unequal opportunities and biased beliefs. Yet he says to his boy, “This world was built, it can be rebuilt. Use everything that you accrue to reimagine the world… I hope the world you inherit is one in which you may love whomever you choose. I hope you read and write and laugh and sing and dance and build and cry and do all of the things a child should do.”
Each of us need to script our story for this year. A story with a difference. A story that is noteworthy and deserving a recall. A story that believes in others and feels for others. The world around us provides us a landscape of opportunities to go beyond the mundane and the ordinary and celebrate our potential to the fullest. Time for us to create new beginnings by picking up the gauntlet …or are we a tad too anxious?
An eventful and adventurous journey into the New Year 2017!
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
31 August, 2016
I wish to begin with the story of a photographer because his passion reminds me of the delights of a dedicated teacher and of the lessons we can all draw if we follow closely and wisely our life’s calling.
For Pulitzer-winning Jerusalem born photographer Muhammed Muheisen, trust is the most important part of his job – perhaps even more important than his camera. “Trust is not something you can buy, or get in no time,” he says. “It’s a long-term investment. It’s a feeling I work hard to earn.” Lately, he was awarded the $10,000 Oliver S Gramling award for journalism for his remarkable images of refugee children – images that are largely the result of his ability to connect with his subjects. “I have spent four years walking, talking and asking, with no language except respect and curiosity, about the lives of the people I photographed,” he says. “Day by day, I felt their trust growing, just as I saw the children growing before my eyes. I became part of their lives, as they became part of mine.”
Does this ring a bell? For teachers called to a noble profession nothing can me more satisfying and fulfilling than the sight of their students grow before their very eyes and become a part of them. The number of students the teacher encounters are numerous. Yet each one is special and unique. And each one has a special place in a teacher’s heart. The bond is strong and indeed powerful. That’s intrinsic to the noble teaching profession. It’s increasingly becoming a challenge though. With increasing demands on time and an avalanche of social media platforms, the quality moments spent for and with one another are indeed a cause for concern. It is disheartening yet not hopeless. Somewhere we need to inject a passion for renewed vigour, create a boundless desire to teach and learn, and rediscover the joys of a classroom. All this can come about with a firm belief and conviction that we can meet the challenges head on.
75 years is indeed a memorable milestone in the annals of our school. Thousands of students have passed within its hallowed portals, and an even greater band of proud and dedicated teachers have graced it with their presence. The imposing and majestic structure bears witness to the many exemplars of love, service and sacrifice. We, on our part wish to celebrate, albeit in a small way, this spirited presence of Don Bosco Matunga for three quarters of a century. Our effort may not reflect the depth and volume of the works over these past glorious years, but surely it is a symbolic gesture of gratitude to the Almighty and the pioneers for this wonderful marvel of history.
I come back to the man of our story. When asked the most important thing he has gleaned from his time in challenging places and risky situations, Muheisen says: “I have learned to feel lucky and appreciate everything I have in my life. When I see how happy people can be from the limited resources they have, when I hear children laugh and I walk towards them to find out what magic has made them happy … We don’t need much to be happy; that is what I have learned.”
Surely God has gifted us in abundance. The resources are plentiful and at times we are spoilt for choice. Praise the institution that is Don Bosco, and be happy that we have been privileged to be a part of its illustrious story! To our teachers- in particular those who are going to retire this academic year: our AHM, Ms. Beatrice; Primary Head teacher, Ms. Winifred and Secondary Assistant teacher, Mr. V.K. – many thanks! Happy Teacher’s day!
With much affection,
Fr. Bernard Fernandes sdb
DON BOSCO LIVES ON…
Welcome to the new scholastic year. It’s been a long vacation this summer and we now get back to a much needed normal routine of school life. While you were away, these were some of the developments on the campus:
- An entire new block of the Kg section on the mezzanine floor of the residential building.
- A makeover of the corridor walls facing the quadrangle.
- A restructuring and re-cabling of the 2 computer labs to accommodate the newly introduced online Career guidance program for Stds. VII to X.
This scholastic year is special since we celebrate the platinum jubilee – seventy-five years – of Don Bosco High School, Matunga. We are grateful and proud that Don Bosco came to this part of Mumbai way back in 1940’s from where it was able to spread its wings of cheerful presence and hope to thousands of youngsters in different parts of the city, state and the country – Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka… We thank the pioneers who sacrificed their time, energy and talents to live their vision and mission – to educate the masses; especially the poor and needy of the neighbourhood.
We now continue reliving and redefining the dreams of our visionaries and predecessors. For this we have to express our goals and identify our passions. Someone gave this useful advice and I quote: Instead of the oft used and mouthed ‘follow your passion’ it is important to ‘foster your passion’.
We need to understand this more closely. What does it mean to be passionate? Passion is not a one-off activity. Rather it needs to be nurtured and fostered. There are three suggestions to practice this:
• Move towards what interests you
• Seek purpose
• Finish strong
I believe the first step is quite uncomplicated. However, we need to invest in time and guidance to identify something that interests us.
It’s the second step that needs a paradigm shift in our outlook and thought. In seeking purpose, I need to ask myself: ‘In what way do I wish the world were different? What problems can I help solve?’ We notice that this is different from the question we repeat to ourselves and others so often, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ Now, to seek a purpose is a tough ask. For most of the time we are taught at home and in school to choose a career that will help maintain our status in society, be famous and secure in life. Yet, if at a very young age, we know the difference between gratification of personal desires and caring for others, receiving and service, ‘my’ world and ‘our’ world, then we will begin to work towards a better and different world. We will be more passionate. Study shows that those who have an enduring passion answer affirmatively to the statements, ‘In choosing what to do, I always take into account whether it will benefit other people’ and ‘I have the responsibility to make the world a better place.’
Lastly finish strong. Work as hard on your last day as on your first. Do not throw in the towel at the first hurdle. This is because your commitment to a goal is of paramount importance. No matter where you go next, you have an opportunity to make the most of where you are now. For ‘every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.’
Let’s build our goals and dreams for this year – goals that will be driven by an enduring passion for truth, love and beauty around us. Goals that have the imprint of the great educator we hold so dear, Don Bosco! 75 years for an institution is a long period, and Don Bosco High School, Matunga, has withstood the test of time. We have come thus far, and my dear staff, students and friends, this is where we are now presently – no matter where we move next. We have a job at hand, a goal to achieve – to let DON BOSCO LIVE ON!
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
Principal’s Desk Archive 2