Russian Astronaut Inspires School Kids In South Africa From ISS [Video]

While the world seems to offer nothing but criticism against his country, one Russian cosmonaut has reached out to South African school pupils from the ISS, inspiring them to reach for the stars.

The students at Forte High School in Dobsonville in Soweto, South Africa, were thrilled this morning to hear Gennady Padalka’s heartfelt message from space, which has inspired them to reach for new heights in their often difficult lives.

The recorded message was beamed down to South Africa as the ISS orbited over the African continent. Around 10 minutes after the ISS passed over, 60 grade eight students watched the video message in the classroom, screened by an overhead projector.

On hearing the cosmonaut’s moving and inspiring message, they all clapped in unison. As they saw the image of the cosmonaut floating around 400 km above the Earth and heard his words, their faces lit up with excitement.

Tweet translation: “The message was specially recorded for Forte High School’s students.”

Explaining that he himself was just “an ordinary boy from freezing cold Russia,” Padalka encouraged the pupils to work hard and push to achieve their goals, no matter the circumstances they are currently living under. He said he always dreamed of going to space, and despite many obstacles in his life, he said he worked hard and managed to achieve his goal of “floating with the stars.”

“Sometimes it was tough, but I would look at the night sky with excitement and remember my dream.

“No matter who you are, if you set your mind to it, no one can stop you.”

According to IOL, one student, Kamogelo Molebatsi, was close to tears as she heard his words of encouragement. She said that Padalka has inspired her to work hard towards her dream of becoming a doctor in South Africa.

The Space Project comes under the initiative One School at a Time and is part of the Reach for the Stars Campaign in South Africa, set up to inspire youngsters living under poor conditions to commit to their education and work hard to gain their dreamed of goals.

One School at a Time first upgraded what were very basic facilities at Forte High School to include a library, sports and recreational facilities, and toilet facilities. They are now in the process of providing a series of motivational initiatives such as this one, which so far has seen a growth in pupils’ matric pass rate from 52 percent back in 2008 to a massive 93 percent during 2014.

Many of the pupils at the school face social and criminal problems, and the school is working together with local police to solve these problems. They have also set up a scheme whereby pupils who need medical attention receive preference at a local clinic, and they run a feeding scheme offering needy children breakfast and lunch if required.

According to the principal of the school, Leonard Mudavhi, many of the 1,880 pupils hail from households run by what are basically children themselves, without parents or by parents who have had little or no education themselves.

He has nothing but praise for the initiative, saying the pupils need this kind of inspiration in their lives and to know they can achieve anything anyone else can.

“The message was clear, anyone can achieve anything no matter who they are or where they come from.”

According to Time, cosmonauts Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, along with astronaut Scott Kelly, have recently started a record-breaking one-year-long stay on the ISS. It seems that Padalka is making an extra effort to take advantage of this amazing and grueling stay in space.

It is now hoped that at least one of those 60 excited pupils at Forte High School in South Africa will one day head to the stars themselves.

In other, rather more fun and frivolous space news, as noted by the Inquisitr, two Swedish brothers recently launched a donut into space on a weather balloon and captured the whole trip on video.

[Image: Gennady Padalka speaking in the ISS – screengrab from YouTube video]