How Malala’s Struggles Inspired Me
I consider myself a very fortunate individual to have been a participant of Malala Day hosted by the United Nations as a representative of Global Kids. Listening to Malala Yousafzai address youth who represented a multitude of nations from around the globe, including myself, was one of the most inspiring and eye opening experiences of my life. It justified the readiness of citizens from around the world to address the issue of insufficient universal education and finally show attentiveness towards young people willing to stand for change. Prior to being in attendance at Malala Day, I was skeptical of my ability and that of my peers to initiate reform regarding global education. Nevertheless, after witnessing Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown standing behind Malala that day, both physically and in spirit, it became evident that her cause was strongly supported and respected by members of the international community despite her young age.
Malala’s age throughout this entire crisis took me aback- she was merely sixteen years old and had become a vital proponent of global education who managed to put more progress into motion than most adults in the field. More importantly, she was able to invigorate the spirits of many young individuals, such as myself, who are fortunate enough to have a quality education and are aware of the opportunities that come with it. Regardless of the fact that Malala and I come from completely different sides of both the societal spectrum and the globe, in that one moment during her speech I felt connected to her. I was able to understand and feel how aggravated she was that an education was being denied to her, and I was able to empathize with the constant perpetual fear she lived in while in Pakistan. In that instant, it became clear to me that someone needed to take a stand for young people like Malala- people being denied opportunities that would allow them to enhance the quality of their lives and potentially evolve into successful, contributing members of society. Malala’s dedication and presence at the United Nations proved to me that motivated youth can make a difference and can be the driving force for change in the present day.
Aside from giving much deserved attention to Malala’s speech, I had the honor of meeting youth representatives from across the globe and listening to what brought them to Malala Day. I was so thrilled to see thousands of diverse individuals my age dedicated to the cause of promoting education. It only strengthened my precursory thoughts that our collective efforts were not in vain, because strength does in fact lie in numbers. Many organizations who are strong advocates for education were also present at the United Nations that day, and they provided with me with the resources and drive to spread word of the issue throughout my community. After Malala Day, I spoke to my peers about this issue and encouraged everyone I know to become more acquainted with global education issues and sign Malala’s petition online. In my experience, I don’t remember ever being more excited and motivated to work toward resolving an issue and finally putting an end to educational injustice in the world.
By Aleksandra Srdanovic, Participant in Global Kids’ Foreign Policy Institute at the Council on Foreign Relations
Meet another YAPtivist, Leslie!!
My Bio: My name is Leslie Cano. I’m a fifteen year old American, born in a Mexican family. I am currently in high school, a rising junior. I’ve been a part of Global Kids since the summer of 2012. I speak both English and Spanish.
My Educational Journey: Living in New York City, I’ve always attended public schools. My parents never believed in me attending private schools. Throughout the years I’ve had the luck of having amazing teachers who have supported me and tried their best to help me in anything i needed. However,I always felt like there was something missing. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been pressured to focus on high stake tests. Our classes were always focused on remembering certain facts that would appear on the test. One day it struck me. We never really got down to the details or connected it to the world today. The higher the grade, the more we worried about the tests and the less we just focused on learning to just gain some knowledge. I am currently attending Long Island City High School, a school known for its low graduation rate and progress report. However, I have found it to be a welcoming school where, as in every other school, if you hang out with the right kind of people, you’ll find yourself with many opportunities. A school with 18 AP classes, over 20 sports, a culinary program and extensive arts programs, the Department of Education has been determined to close down the school, my second home.
Why I want to participate in the Global Kids Educational Justice YAP: I’m not so familiar with the term “educational justice” but I know my concerns are connected to it. I feel like we, the youth spend a lot of time in school to a point where it becomes our second home so we should have a say in what happens related to the school. I hope to gain knowledge on educational justice and educate my peers on what we can do, how we can stop the wrong, and make our voices be heard.
Something I am looking forward to trying/seeing/discovering in Chicago: I’m an adventurous person and my goal is to go to as many states in the U.S. as possible. Going to Chicago, I’m not sure what I’m expecting to find. I’m just looking forward to be amazed and get to learn their culture.
Meet another YAPtvisit, Samrawit Hadgu!
My name is Samrawit Hadgu and I am a seventeen years old, soon to be junior in high school. I was born in Eritrea and moved to the United States at age 8. I started Global Kids two years ago as a freshman.
My Educational Journey:
Up until middle school, I studied in Asmara. I remember ugly school uniforms and physically punishing teachers. The curriculum, especially in math and science, were much more difficult in Asmara than they were in the US. I spent some time in Sudan where I couldn’t go to school but was able to pick up Arabic. When I moved to America I was put in the second grade again where I only understood please and thank you. Within my first week I asked to be put back in first grade because English was so hard for me. This gave me a chance to learn the basics of English with American children.
Why I want to participate in the Global Kids Educational Justice YAP:
This a huge learning experience for me. I have my own educational journey and experiences and I want to hear others’. Activism for educational justice is important to me.
Something I am looking forward to trying/seeing/discovering in Chicago:
I am so excited to learn more about Chicago’s fascinating history and see its beautiful architecture. I want eat food, hear some jazz and visit the Chicago theater. Being a junior, I also hope we can see a few colleges.
The Global Kids Educational Justice Youth Action Project is gearing up for two amazing experiences: Leslie, Redwan, Samrawit and Forhad are preparing to attend and present at the Free Minds, Free People conference in Chicago, and Adam will be representing the EdJustice YAP at the United Nations! The YAPtivists spent 3 days learning about and discussing major issues in educational justice, such as the school-to-prison pipeline, privatization, high stakes tests, and global/national inequities. They also learned about the history of mayoral control and community voice in education reform in New York City. Stay tuned for their reflections!