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The Hands for a Bridge program at Roosevelt seeks to engage students in social justice issues locally and worldwide. The students travel to South Africa and Northern Ireland to explore historically conflict-ridden areas and work with youth there to understand these issues and how to solve them. Here, the Hands for a Bridge students respond to Nelson Mandela’s passing and reflect on his legacy.


“If there is one spark

a small flash of light or

an ounce of warmth

even the coldest of ice

has the hope to thaw”

“I think Nelson Mandela’s legacy is most impressive because of the number of lives he touched, despite a 27 year imprisonment and choosing to run for only one term as president. What we see all too often in countries of civil and political conflict are influential leaders that become corrupted or are assassinated. Mandela was humble and steadfast throughout. His prisoner to president of the country journey is inspiring to anyone who wants to make a difference.”

“With the South Africans who visited Roosevelt, I saw how important he was in their lives. Each and every one of them has been affected by his actions and words, and I have stayed connected with them through Mandela’s passing. I know that they feel as though they have lost someone close to them, even if they never had the chance to meet him. He will be missed.”

“Nelson Mandela has inspired me to forgive more easily, and his incredible courage has showed me that one person really can make a difference.”

“His actions have inspired me to accept people I don’t necessarily agree with or like. I’m impressed that he became really good friends with his warden from Robben Island, and his cabinet while he was president consisted of people who had put him in jail.”

“I think Mandela left a legacy of peaceful, kind leadership that is rarely seen. Thinking of him reminds me to be kind and respectful to all people. This is something that is really important.”

“I think he was inspirational to a lot of South African students to use education as a stairway to a better understanding of equality.”

“I heard recently that Mandela’s message was all about kindness and it got me thinking as to how necessary kindness is to my life, and to the solutions to the problems around us. Being patient when I am stressed, caring when I hurt, and listening when I want to yell. I hope Mandela’s message will take Roosevelt far.”

“His legacy is legendary. He not only changed and united one nation, but the world with his common goal of peace. I’m inspired by how influential he was in bringing people together through sports.”

“Mandela represents everything that is good about the world. He is a symbol of hope and love in humanity and lives on with those he inspired.”

“Mandela has always been a role model for me. He stood up for what he believed in, even at the cost of 27 years in prison. He has taught me that if I never give up and continue to try I can achieve anything.”

“To me Nelson Mandela was more than a person. He was an icon of a generation and his actions in South Africa were amazing not only for their accomplishments but also because they came from kindness, respect, and goodness.

“Mandela was a good man. It’s hard to be a good man and the leader of a country these days. It’s impressive that in a world so focused on the negative I’ve only heard positive things about this man.”

“His actions have given me hope. It’s inspirational that he dedicated his life to the country and the ways in which he acted with kindness. He began to break down social barriers and I feel that it is my job to continue his work in improving society.”

“Nelson Mandela was a world changer who inspired me to strive to be the same. I never met him or corresponded with him and yet I felt a connection. That is what I think he strived for: to bring to light the connections between all of us as people.”

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