The First Piper Brings Global Message of Inspiration

Ross OC Jennings lets nothing get in the way of accomplishing his goal to play the bagpipes in every country of the world.

Whether it's the Vatican City police or an elephant in India that tries to stop him, he finds opportunities in his failures and encouraged students at Western Academy of Beijing to do the same.

"Making a mistake is one of the most important things you can do in life," Ross told groups of WAB High School and Elementary students on Tuesday in a special Distinguished Speaker Series event. "That's because you'll learn something from your mistakes and then improve your life."

Ross began his journey after graduating from university, and has so far played bagpipes in 60 countries. His goal doesn't only involve playing music, but also to share the culture of his native country, Scotland, and bring people together around the world. His goal to become the first person to play in every country earned him the nickname "The First Piper."

Encouraging students to follow their passions and pursue careers or goals that they enjoy, Ross said there are opportunities all around and not to be afraid of taking risks.

"There is always someone nearby who you can strike up a conversation with," he said. "Over the next few years, you'll be getting lots of opportunities. My advice is to take them. Maybe they're rubbish. Maybe you'll make mistakes. But look at them as an integral part of improving your life."

While on campus Thursday, students learned about the origin and diversity of the bag pipes, practiced the techniques of playing the instrument and enjoyed performances throughout the day – even once as Ross escorted the High School students to lunch over Duck Lake on Xiang Yin Bridge.

The day provided inspiring messages and meaningful cultural exchange for the students and for Ross. To learn more about how WAB introduces students to influential people and ideas, read about the Distinguished Speaker Series.