Looking Forward to 2021; Looking Back to 2020 (and 1834)

Happy New Year!

A year ago, no one could foresee the trials that 2020 brought. However, the extraordinary response of our students, teachers, tutors, and administrators was entirely predictable, because their character already had been evident. We are extremely proud of their hard work and commitment.

We cannot choose our circumstances, but we can choose how to respond. It is natural to become disheartened in the face of adversity. To summon the resolve to overcome that adversity is the essence of heroism, as history has amply demonstrated.

In 1834, not far from where I write this in Maryland, a young man of 16—the same age as many of our students—contemplated a brutal past and a bleak future. Fred Bailey, who was enslaved near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, was, as he later wrote, “broken…my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed”.

Yet Fred Bailey’s passion for learning persisted, and he defied his cruel circumstances by watching “countless number of sails moving off to the mighty ocean” and dreaming of a better life. Later choosing the name Frederick Douglass, he not only created that better life for himself, he also was instrumental in bringing freedom to millions of others. Frederick Douglass became one of America’s great authors and orators, and a compelling advocate for honoring our nation’s founding ideals.

Our circumstances obviously are very different from those faced by Frederick Douglass and other heroes from the past, but we still may be inspired by their example. We are called to do what we can, when we can, and our students are doing just that, heroically.

Our students are working to create bright futures for themselves, and for the communities we are fortunate to serve. We are deeply grateful to our teachers, tutors, and administrators for helping them in that critical task. We look forward to 2021, when our students’ work will continue, and to the decades ahead, when the full benefit of their work will be realized.

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and happy 2021.

Matt Dolan
Chief Executive Officer
Global Teaching Project