Jose Abreu: Inspiration comes full circle

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Jose Abreu is well known for his inspiration of disadvantaged Venezuelan youth. His work with El Sistema and the beautiful music that it has produced are an inextricable part of the country and the region’s culture and history. El Sistema has given huge numbers of children direction, purpose and opportunity that they may otherwise never have had. This is why the world knows Jose Abreu, and why tonight he received a TEDPrize.

Gustavo Dudamel conducts El Sistema orchestra Photo: TED/Asa Mathat

However, huge movements like El Sistema create ripples, and it is these ripples of inspiration that take effect in ways we might never consider. It is one of these tiny waves that came through my television, when I was a little girl in Trinidad and Tobago watching El Sistema in concert.

I remember my parents being very excited, and not understanding why, until my mother explained the mission and the vision of this particular orchestra. I remember thinking, “What a wonderful man, to help little kids like me to do things that other people said they couldn’t.” (People were always telling me all the things I could not do.)

As I get older, I can see how moments like this one have also given me direction and purpose. It is experiences such as these that allow me to have continuous optimism for humanity. It is this attitude that attracted me to TED. And tonight, I am a small part of helping to reward and recognize one of my earliest role models.

By Shanna Carpenter