125 years ago, in 1892, there was an 18-year-old boy studying at Stanford University. He lost his parents at a very young age, was able to get to college with the help of his uncle. Though struggled a lot, he couldn’t earn enough to pay for his college during his first year. The deadline to pay the fee was getting closer but he had no money with him. So he along with his friend has come up with an idea of organizing a musical event, earn profits through that and pay the fee. They reached out to Ignacy Paderewski, the great pianist and requested him to perform. The two friends have agreed to pay the $2000 fee as demanded by his manager. Huge arrangements were made for the event, Paderewski’s performance was mesmerizing. On the monetary front, forget about the profits, they couldn’t even get the $2000 that they agreed to pay.
The students did not know what to do. So they went straight to Paderewski and told him the entire story and gave him the $1600 and a cheque for $400. They mentioned that they will clear the debt of $400 very soon. Paderewski understood the situation, tore down the cheque, returned the $1600 and told them to pay the fee with that money and give him if there is anything left. They were shocked by such a humble gesture from the great artist. In the later years, Paderewski has earned huge fame from around the world for his mastery and went on to become the Prime Minister of Poland in 1919.
In 1935, during World War II, Poland has become one of the first victims of Hilter’s atrocities and lost everything. Millions of people were homeless and starving with hunger. Paderewski’s heart melt to see his fellow citizens in such a sorrowful state. So he wrote to the USA Food and Rehabilitation Organization for help. Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the president of USA was the head of the organization. He immediately ordered his team to export 150 tons of clothes and rugs and set up a kitchen in Poland which can serve 2 lakh people a day. America’s Red Cross society has donated $20 Million for the welfare of Poland. Paderewski was very happy with the support received during the time of crisis. After the war, he wanted to meet the person who lent the helping hand. He has tears in his eyes when he met Hoover. Then Hoover, with a smile, said, sir, it is my pleasure to serve a great man who saved my education. 48 years ago you returned your fee of $1600 to a student at Stanford University, I am the one who received that help from you. Common people see their own benefit while helping others, but legends think of what the other person might lose if they don’t help. That is why one of them has become the prime minister of his country and the other one has become the president of his country.
A story of legends who showed the world the power of generosity.
Note: I copied this story from Gollapudi Maruthi Rao columns because some stories are worth copying and sharing.