Today we talked about the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Malala Yousafzai. We learned about how she spoke up against the Taliban in Pakistan and, as a result, was shot in the head when she was 14. We watched a brief clip of an interview she had with The Daily Show’s former host, Jon Stewart, and saw how she can quickly and deftly answer interview questions. Her presence and voice are commanding and her humility is inspiring. After we watched the clip, we watched the documentary He Named Me Malala based on her book, I am Malala.
Malala straddles two worlds: that of a normal high school teenage experience and that of a world-renowned speaker, Nobel Prize winner, and celebrity in her own right. Malala has made appearances on many shows including Ellen and The Daily Show, and has met the Queen of England. She gave one of her most famous talks to the United Nations, where she memorably stated, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” We observed how she has continued championing the rights of uneducated girls and boys throughout the world. She has met with the parents of the Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. She has talked with Syrian refugee children who have had to abandon their homes and schools and are now in camps without access to education. She has spoken with the presidents of countries, including President Obama, and relayed her concerns about drone attacks and how they may be influencing more extremists to take arms. She started a charity, The Malala Fund, with her father, and its goal is “to enable girls to complete 12 years of safe, quality education so that they can achieve their potential and be positive change-makers in their families and communities.” All of this, and she is not yet 19.
We caught a glimpse of Malala’s childhood and upbringing, and the influence of her non-traditional father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who thought that girls should be educated. We learned how he named Malala after a hero, Malalai, who was brave and used her voice for good. After watching the film, we discussed the price Malala paid, what we might have done in her situation, and the art/cartoons used in the film. She is an icon who has accomplished what we hope our FlexSchool students will through their Community Engagement/Service Projects: identify and begin to address a problem in the world.
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