Our Story
Follow Your Dreams 
by David Kester

A

s much as it might come to a surprise, I’m not the best at telling stories. I explain things better in my head than I do out loud. It’s not that I’m bashful. It’s just that I like to keep things inside. I rather let people watch something unfold instead of explaining why things happen. The Follow Your Dreams project has been a part of Mahipal SoCal for over five years, and for some of you, you shared your stories with us. I felt the longevity of this project has told the story itself. But all stories have a beginning, and this one was special.

It was 2012, and at the time I was going to school in Philadelphia. I was in my college dormitory occupying myself with a few things in the computer lab where I had a project idea for my fashion blog. The idea was a project called “Follow Your Dreams.” I came up with the idea of walking up to strangers and asking them if I could take their photo while holding my sign with the words “Follow Ur Dreams written on the front. I would then ask them what their name was, their hometown, and what their stories and dreams are.

 

I wasn’t sure how I would go about this or what stranger’s reactions would be, so I asked two of my friends if they wanted to tag along. It was a late December night in Philadelphia, and the streets were dark, quiet and cold. The only noise outside was the light reflection from the cars passing by at Rittenhouse Square.

As I approached a corner street near Rittenhouse with my friends we noticed an older lady walking alone. She noticed us too. She came up to us and asked what all of us were doing out with my sign.

I explained to her my blog that can help me land a job one day in fashion in New York or Los Angeles after school. I explained my willingness to work hard outside of school and follow my dreams. I then mentioned how I wanted to create a social project called Follow Your Dreams where I can share what other people’s stories and dreams were. She gave me her advice and told all of us a little story about herself. After all of our talking, I then asked her if she wanted to be a part of my project and hold my Follow Your Dreams sign for a picture and tell me her dream. She said yes.

"A question and an answer so personal to exchange between two strangers who just met seemed so easy to ask."

A question and an answer so personal to exchange between two strangers who just met seemed so easy to ask. It made me realize that this wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. The lady I met that night was Nancy from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and her dream is to be cured of cancer. After Nancy told me her dream we spoke for a little while and separated. But for a few seconds, after she left, I turned around to make sure I heard her right, and as I looked the other way she was gone. I was confused, and I was shocked. The sidewalks were so alone that night that she wasn’t able to hide by people walking by, and she wasn’t physically able to run away, but she was gone entirely. I was unsure with what just happened. I looked at my friends, and I asked them if they saw where she went, and they both said no.

Meet Nancy of

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

her dream is to be cured of cancer.

Follow Your Dreams

The next few years I continued to ask strangers what their stories and dreams were. The more I spoke with different strangers, the more I wanted to create a better understanding and share with everyone that no matter who we are, where we come from, and what we look like – we all have dreams and a story. I took everything I was doing and turned this into the Follow Your Dreams project.

I’m not here to preach you on your life dreams. We are all in different situations. Whether it’s going to school and getting that degree, working for that promotion, paying those bills, raising a family, or practicing to be the next best athletic or artist life gets in the way and everything takes time and patience. Remembering Nancy and what she told me, I realized that everything happens for a reason. That life has a weird way of telling you stories. And just like Dorothy on her way to OZ you meet people along the way. That night Nancy told me her story. And since then I been meeting people along the way, helping to create mine.

Sincerely,

David Mahipal Kester