I'm not sure what Emory Campbell will tell Hilton Head Island High School students when he goes back to school Friday morning.
His assignment is to encourage students to commit to education. He will be joined by islander Henry Ponder, a retired college president, as hundreds of African American "history makers" do the same in schools across the nation.
Today's students would be wise to listen to Campbell's soft voice.
He certainly has taught me some important lessons:
You must constantly learn.
Life's greatest lessons will come in unexpected ways.
When we talked last year about the significance of a Gullah float in the Inaugural Parade, Campbell told me there was a time when he saw no value in the culture he was brought up in on Hilton Head Island.
But he changed his mind.
That's an important lesson for the kids to catch. Not many people are able to change their minds.
And Campbell noted that it was someone unexpected -- someone from far away -- who pulled the scales from his Lowcountry eyes.
Joseph E. Holloway, a professor from California, was here documenting African influences in American culture. He asked Campbell if he'd talked to Pat and Claude Sharpe, who came to St. Helena Island in 1979 to translate the New Testament into Gullah.
This was the language used on isolated islands that a young Campbell had tried to rinse from his tongue so he could get ahead in life. People made fun of it. It was a symbol of inferiority. Campbell told the professor he had no intention of going all the way across the county to speak to the Sharpes.
But he did.
"I got a little turned on," Campbell said.
Then another Joseph from afar, historian Joseph Opala, showed Campbell direct links between the people and culture of Sierra Leone and the South Carolina coast.
Gullah ways became a source of pride for Campbell, and a topic for continuous study.
"As private as Gullah people are, outsiders have played a big role in helping us save the culture," he said.
In 2008, Campbell was elected the first chairman of the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, established by Congress to shine a light on a fading culture. Campbell, born in 1941, now wants people to understand the spiritual and family focus of the culture.
When Campbell was young, Hilton Head didn't even have a high school.
But that didn't stop him from getting college and advanced degrees. It didn't stop him from having an open mind.
Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.