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Pursue Your Dreams

In 1959, when Jean Harper was in the third grade, her teacher gave the class an assignment to write a report on what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Jean’s father was a crop duster pilot in the little farming community in Northern California where she was raised, and Jean was totally captivated by airplanes and flying. She poured her heart into her report and included all of her dreams; she wanted to crop dust, make parachute jumps, seed clouds and be an airline pilot. Her paper came back with an “F” on it. The teacher told her it was a “fairy tale” and that none of the occupations she listed were women’s jobs. Jean was crushed and humiliated.

She showed her father the paper, and he told her that of course she could become a pilot. “Look at Amelia Earhart,” he said. “That teacher doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

But as the years went by, Jean was beaten down by the discouragement and negativity she encountered whenever she talked about her career-“Girls can’t become airline pilots; never have, never will. You’re not smart enough, you’re crazy. That’s impossible. “-until finally Jean gave up.

In her senior year of high school, her English teacher was a Mrs. Dorothy Slaton. Mrs. Slaton was an uncompromising, demanding teacher with high standards and a low tolerance for excuses. She refused to treat her students like children, instead expecting them to behave like the responsible adults they would have to be to succeed in the real world after graduation. Jean was scared of her at first but grew to respect her firmness and fairness.

One day Mrs. Slaton gave the class an assignment. “What do you think you’ll be doing 10 years from now?” Jean thought about the assignment. Pilot? No way. Flight attendant? I’m not pretty enough-they’d never accept me. Wife? What guy would want me? Waitress? I could do that. That felt safe, so she wrote it down.

Mrs. Slaton collected the papers and nothing more was said. Two weeks later, the teacher handed back the assignments, face down on each desk, and asked this question: “If you had unlimited finances, unlimited access to the finest schools, unlimited talents and abilities, what would you do?”

Jean felt a rush of the old enthusiasm, and with excitement she wrote down all her old dreams. When the students stopped writing, the teacher asked, “How many students wrote the same thing on both sides of the paper?” Not one hand went up.

The next thing that Mrs. Slaton said changed the course of Jean’s life. The teacher leaned forward over her desk and said, “I have a little secret for you all. You do have unlimited abilities and talents. You do have access to the finest schools, and you can arrange unlimited finances if you want something badly enough. This is it! When you leave school, if you don’t go for your dreams, no one will do it for you. You can have what you want if you want it enough.”

The hurt and fear of years of discouragement crumbled in the face of the truth of what Mrs. Slaton had said. Jean felt exhilarated and a little scared. She stayed after class and went up to the teacher’s desk. Jean thanked Mrs. Slaton and told her about her dream of becoming a pilot. Mrs. Slaton half rose and slapped the desk top. “Then do it!” she said.

So Jean did. It didn’t happen overnight. It took l0 years of hard work, facing opposition that ranged from quiet skepticism to outright hostility. It wasn’t in Jean’s nature to stand up for herself when someone refused or humiliated her; instead, she would quietly try to find another way.

She became a private pilot and then got the necessary ratings to fly air freight and even commuter planes, but always as a copilot. Her employers were openly hesitant about promoting her-because she was a woman. Even her father advised her to try something else. “It’s impossible,” he said. “Stop banging your head against the wall!”

But Jean answered, “Dad, I disagree. I believe that things are going to change, and I want to be at the head of the pack when they do.”

Jean went on to do everything her third-grade teacher said Was a fairy tale-she did some crop dusting, made a few hundred parachute jumps and even seeded clouds for a summer Season as a weather modification pilot. In 1978, she became one of the first three female pilot trainees ever accepted by United Airlines and one of only 50 women airline pilots in the nation at the time. Today, Jean Harper is a Boeing 737 captain for United.

It was the power of one well-placed positive word, one spark of encouragement from a woman Jean respected, that gave that uncertain young girl the strength and faith to pursue her dream.

  追求梦想的力量和信念

  那是1959年,琼?哈珀在上三年级的时候。有一次,老师布置全班同学写一篇作文,让大家谈一谈自己长大以后想干什么。

  那时,琼的父亲是北加利福尼亚农场小区的一名给作物喷洒农药的飞机驾驶员,琼就是在那里长大的,所以,从小就非常痴迷于飞机和飞行。对老师布置的这篇作文,琼全心倾注地去写,把她的全部梦想都写进去了:她想驾驶着飞机给作物喷洒农药,她想去跳伞,她想去实施人工降雨,并且她还想成为一名客机飞行员。可是,最后,她的这篇作文却得了一个“F”(failure,不及格)。老师告诉她那是一篇“神话”,因为她所列举的工作没有一项是女人能够做的。听老师这么一说,琼伤心透了,感到失望、羞耻。

  她把作文拿给她的父亲看。父亲对她说,她当然能够成为一名飞行员。“看看阿米莉娅?埃尔哈特〔1898-1937,美国女飞行员〕,”那个老师不知道自己在说些什么。”

  然而,随着时间一天天地过去,琼还是被消极劝阻和否定态度给击倒了--每当她谈起自己梦想的时候,人们就会说“女孩子是不可能成为飞行员的,现在不会,将来也不会。你太异想天开,简直就是疯了。那是不可能的。”--终于,琼认输放弃了。

  在琼高中最后一年,她的英语老师是多萝西?斯莱顿夫人。斯莱顿夫人一丝不苟,对学生要求非常严格,高标准,不容忍找任何借口。她还不把自己的学生当小孩子来对待,而是期望他们的行为举止能够像有责任感的成年人那样,即当他们毕业后走上社会为了获得成功所必须要表现出的那样。刚开始的时候,琼非常怕她,但是,逐渐地,对她的严厉和公正,不禁敬佩起来。

  有一天,斯莱顿夫人给全班同学布置了一项作业。“你想10年后从事什么工作?”琼思考着怎样写这项作业。做一名飞行员?那根本行不通。做一名空中小姐?可我又不够漂亮--航空公司不会接纳我的。做个妻子?可有谁会娶我呢?做一个服务员呢?嗯,这我能做。这没有问题,于是,就把这个想法写了下来。

  斯莱顿夫人收齐了同学们的作文,也没有再说什么。两个星期以后,老师把作文发给了同学们,正面朝下放在课桌上。然后,她问道:“同学们,如果你们有足够的金钱,有充分的机会到最好的学校去上学,并且你们本身又具有足够的天分和才能,那么,你们将会干什么呢?”

  琼的心中涌起了以往的热情;她感到激动、兴奋,把多年的梦想全都写下来。当同学们都写完之后,老师又问道:“同学们,你们中间有多少同学的作文两次写得都一样?”没有一个同学举手。

  斯莱顿夫人接着说的一番话改变了琼的生活道路。她在讲台前稍稍俯身向前地对同学们说:“我有一个小秘密想告诉你们大家,这就是,你们每一个人的确都有足够的才能和天分,都有机会去上最好的学校;而且,只要你们这种愿望特别强烈的话,你们就能够筹划足够的金钱。事实就是这样!你们离开学校之后,如果自己不去追求梦想,那么,没有人会来帮你忙。只要有强烈的愿望,就能够实现你的梦想。”

  多年的沮丧和气馁带给她的伤害和畏惧,在斯莱顿夫人这番真情实话面前消失了,琼感到振奋,也有一点害怕。下课之后,她走到讲台前,感谢斯莱顿夫人,并且告诉斯莱顿夫人她的梦想是成为一名飞行员。斯莱顿夫人微微地站起身子,拍了一下桌子,说道:“那好啊,努力去实现它吧!”

  琼这样做了,但这不是一朝一夕能实现的。琼为之苦苦奋斗了10年。在这10年里,她面对着种种阻力和压力,有沉默的怀疑,也有断然的反对。有人反对或羞辱她时,琼都默默地承受着,并且悄悄地努力寻求另外的门路。

  终于,她成了一名私人飞机的驾驶员,并且,还获得了,驾驶货运飞机甚至短途客机所必需的资格证书,但是,她始终只能做一位副驾驶。她的老板毫不隐瞒地表示,之所以没有晋升她的职务,只是因为她是一位女性。甚至她的父亲也曾建议她去尝试干别的工作,“做飞行员,你是不会有出路的,”他说。“别拿自己的脑袋往墙上撞了!”

  但是,琼回答道:“爸爸,我不同意你的说法。我相信事情会改变的,到时候,我要成为这帮人的头头。”

  琼继续做着她三年级老师所说的神话--她驾驶着飞机给作物喷洒农药,进行了数百次的跳伞,甚至是在夏季驾驶着飞机去实施人工降雨。1978年,她成为联合航空公司首批录取的三位女性实习飞行员之一,而当时,整个美国也只有50名女性飞行员。今天,琼?哈珀是联合航空公司波音737客机的机长。

  这是那位琼所敬重的斯莱顿夫人适时说出的那句积极肯定的话语所产生出的力量,催人向上的火花!正是这种力量,才使得这个拿不定主意的小女孩重新有了追求梦想的力量和信念。

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