The Girl Who Stood Up

I have crossed the peak of the semester, and I am now on a slippery, slippery slope speeding towards finals. When writing my to-do list for the remainder of the semester, I’ve come to realize that I have something due every single week from now until December 12. Every. Single. Week. Which means that every spare moment, every weekend, every early morning is dedicated to finishing the TWO 20-page papers I have due, the THREE presentations I have coming up, oh, and the SEVEN tests I have before Christmas.

Last night, after a 10 hour study day and my accounting midterm, I was feeling so sorry for myself. I was feeling defeated and useless and ready to just throw my hands in the air and walk away. It would be so easy for me to drop out of the MBA program and go back to teaching high school. (I saw two more of my students yesterday. They both called me Ms. A and it made my heart smile.)

But then I got on Twitter for a mindless wind down before bed, and I came across this article. It is a feature on Malala, a 16 year old Pakistani girl who stood up to the Taliban for educational rights for women. She took two bullets to her body in the name of equality.

And here I am thinking it’s hard for me to get dressed to go to school.

I first heard her story on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (the video of the interview is in the article above), and I, along with everyone in the audience and Jon Stewart, was moved by her story.

“If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib,” she said. “You must not treat others that much with cruelty, and that much harshly. You must fight others, but through peace, through dialogue, and through education. I would tell [the Talib] how important education is, and that I even want education for your children as well. I would tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you. Now do what you want.’”

Not only did she stand her ground and get shot at twice, but she said that if she met up with them again, she would do it again. She argues for pacifism and education and all of these wonderful things, in a country that is run by the scariest group of men and in a country that has one of the most anti-woman cultures still around.

And she is only sixteen.

She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, and became the youngest person ever nominated. Can you imagine? Sixteen years old and being recognized worldwide for risking your life to better your country and the world.

This story inspires me. (And, of course, I’ve already bought her book.) So now, instead of sitting at work feeling sorry for myself and my two page long to do list, I’m going to be thankful that I was born in at a time in our country that allows me the freedom to get my Master’s degree and work in a job that allows me the same rights as men.To studying, I go!

“Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons.” Malala Yousafzai, in her keynote speech to the United Nations, 12th July 2013.

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