We had first briefly learned about Malala Yousafzai and what she stood for when she was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012. The news having spread throughout the world with social media and the global news stations. Other than that small information about her I didn’t know much about her, until we listened to her book in preparation for going to her talk in Portland.
She continued to fight for what she believed in, even when facing a threat of death. She prevailed past an injury that certainly would have killed her if she had not received the necessary treatment at the right time. Malala showed bravery and strength in the face of terror and continues fighting for what she believes. Malala is fighting for the right that every child has the ability to go to school for 12 years of primary and secondary education. This is what makes her one of my role models.
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” — Malala Yousafzai
The occasion to see Malala Yousafzai first came to us in May, we immediately purchased tickets after giving it little thought, already aware that it would provide a wonderful learning experience. I was not disappointed, for what she spoke about was truly inspiring.
She spoke about the fact that not only did women need to stand up for girls’ education, but also the men. For we need to work together for there to be change that lasts generations past our own.
When Malala talked about her family, she was an ordinary girl. She reminded me of myself when I think of my family, I could almost see into her soul as she remembered brief interactions between herself and her family. Malala’s eyes lit up as she described how her mother is the strict parent while her father the fun one. The realization that she, like most teenagers, hates having to get up early in the morning to go to school resonated with me.
The fact that when she auditioned to be the Head Girl at the high school that she attends she did not win, shows that everyone can still lose even after accomplishing a great deed. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, yet she did not mention this in her application, wanting to focus only on her academic achievements. She told us that the girl that did win, “…is very nice and can do everything.” Instead, Malala was awarded the Deputy Head Girl, which she gladly accepted. This made me happy to know that the people who are receiving these great awards can still be humble. She spoke about her classmate the same respect as she spoke about our president.
The one topic that struck me like a bolt of lightning was the fact that what these girls want most is the opportunity and freedom to willingly go to school and to learn. They are all aware that the only way to create a better life for themselves is to have a good education which will provide them with opportunities to find a good job, good pay, and be treated equally. They dream to have a pile of textbooks and a stack of homework to study and work through in the evening.
In contrast, every child with the privilege to go to school is stressing over whether they will get that brand new toy that they saw advertised on TV or a laptop on Christmas. To have a place to learn should be treasured, no matter what country you reside. In America and other more developed countries, going to school is always put on the back-burner and seen as a necessary evil and is regarded as burdensome.
Malala Yousafzai has inspired me to speak up for what I believe in. Immediately after the talk, I signed up for The Malala Fund. In the future, I plan on sharing what I think needs to be changed and then acting upon what I want changed.