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Happy 20th, Malala!

12 July 2017

Just a  quick note that one of Globalcitizenshipe’s favorite students in the world is no longer a student: Malala Yousafzai graduated from her secondary school in Birmingham, England on July 7, and–typical teen–celebrated by posting on Twitter.

That’s probably the only typical teenage thing Malala did to commemorate the occasion (she didn’t even start her Twitter account until she was done with exams). Graduating high school here in the States usually comes with a little to a lot of fear about leaving the nest and going out into the world and actually forging your own future, partly thanks to the common myth that high school is the best time of our lives (this attitude provides a big money-maker for high school memorabilia companies, and a big debt-maker for unwary families). There is, I think, the unconscious worry of being, like Brenda and Eddie in Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” someone “who peaked too early in life.”

So how can Malala’s accomplishments after graduation match up those before: surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban, who seek to prevent the education of girls; founding and promoting the Malala Fund to champion the universal right of every girl in the world to 12 years of free, safe, quality education; winning a Nobel Prize for Peace; …. Heck, she even was bestowed honorary Canadian citizenship. Her 16th birthday was named Malala Day by the United Nations, which gave her the gift of addressing the General Assembly.

How does one top that? Well, for Malala, who turns 20 today, you go to Iraq:

“I chose to spend my birthday this year in Iraq to meet girls like 13-year-old Nayir. When extremists occupied Mosul, Nayir could not go to school for three years. Her family fled the city in April, when her father was captured by ISIS. They haven’t heard from him since.

“Nayir is one of three million displaced people in Iraq. Half are children and almost half of them aren’t in school. The odds are worse for girls.

“When Nayir fled Mosul, she was determined to go back to school. ‘No matter what, nothing will keep me from finishing my studies,’ she told me. Her new classroom is a small tent in the camp. She just took her exams in sweltering heat.”

You go, girl! Or, perhaps, now that you’re 20, keep up the good work, young lady!

Below are more links pertaining to Malala Day.

“Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy, and every girl who has raised their voice for their rights.”

Malala’s life story on Biography
10 inspirational quotes by Malala
How Malala inspires us all

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2 Comments
  1. I love this post, Andy. I heard an interview with Malala from Iraq a few days ago and this is such an immediate pairing to that.
    Keep inspiring!

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