Malala Yousafzai is a young woman known around the world for her activism. She has stood up for girls’ rights around the world and has made her voice heard in a time where many people write off youth as out of touch. Malala started with a blog and a passion for education, which angered the Taliban, leading to a near-fatal shot in the head in 2012. She survived the attack, became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and now stands for bravery in the face of oppression.
Malala is an inspiration for her generation. She uses the technology we have been privileged to grow up with to spread a message of hope, and to demand equal rights for women. She gave up her dream of becoming a doctor because she believed that she had a greater calling as a politician. She is a young woman of faith and though we may not share all the same doctrines, we share a God. I believe that God saw a young woman with determination and ambition, and is using her to give a face for all of the children around the world that live without education.
On April 12, Malala gave a speech in the Canadian Parliament accepting honorary Canadian citizenship. In it, she shared the stories of refugees that were able to come to Canada and find relief, and create a home for themselves. She told the stories of refugees from different countries, of young girls struggling for a basic education. She thanked the Canadian people for welcoming refugees into their country and giving displaced persons somewhere to live and restart their lives.
Most of us here at Andrews have been lucky enough to grow up in a country where primary and secondary education are not a luxury; they’re something we take for granted and even complain about. We complain about how much homework we have and don’t give a thought to blowing off a class every now and again. The contemporary American education system is far from perfect; we still have underperforming teachers instructing students using outdated methods and approaches, and students are frequently passed through the school system with no effort put into their success. The mistake would be to think that we can’t change that. We need to think like Malala, and make ourselves heard. We can make a difference in our own country, and we can make a difference in other countries as well.
As people who go to a school with the tagline “Seek Knowledge. Affirm Faith. Change the World,” we could probably come up with a few ideas to help out our younger brothers and sisters around the world that are currently fighting for their basic human right of education in countries such as Nepal, Afghanistan, Guatemala and Chad. We can raise money for organizations that pay for schools and teachers, we can lend our services through mission projects, and we can show our support for Malala and politicians like her that support our values. We can change the world—we just need to be willing to sacrifice something, be it money, time or resources. Malala says she hopes that future generations will look back on us with pride. Let’s make sure they do.