Malala Yousafzai, An Evening with the Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

photo (3)On Wednesday August 26th, Hamlin’s Head of School, Wanda Holland Greene and recent Hamlin graduate Devon Roberts met with Malala Yousafzai at an intimate gathering in a private San Francisco Bay Area residence.

Ms. Yousafzai is eighteen years old and is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (2014) for her work fighting against the suppression of children and for asserting the right of all young people to attend school.

As a young girl, Ms. Yousafzai challenged the Taliban in her native Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education.  In 2012 she was shot three times by a Taliban gunman, but survived to continue her activism on a global level.

I had a chance to hear about Wanda’s time with Malala and her family.

Wanda explained, “what was really powerful for me is that they (the family) did not dwell on the attack.  In terms of energy, Malala’s energy is entirely focused on her sense of purpose as a philanthropist, as an activist, as a builder of schools, and as a future college student, she’s currently looking at colleges.”

I went on to ask Wanda about her biggest “takeaways” from the evening.

“One, is this idea that she didn’t linger on the horrific tragedy, the thing that catapulted her into the spotlight was not the focus of her conversation, it was not a cloud hanging over her.  She seems very present and future driven.  I think that is very powerful in terms of purpose and resilience and strength.”

“My second takeaway was probably one of the most profound things.  There was a thirteen-year old girl who asked her how could she be so brave going forward.  Malala said, ‘I faced death and I’m here.  So what else can be done to me?  The Taliban tried to silence me, to tell me to be submissive and uneducated, and they accelerated my campaign for change, and they amplified my voice, and I have nothing to fear because I have faced that and I’m here.’  That was so powerful for me, because I thought in the same way that this person walks into a Charleston church and shoots nine people, he actually accelerated conversations about confederate flags and things that may have lingered longer, you all of a sudden have people really examining the symbols of American history, speaking out and taking things down.”

“My third takeaway was related to Malala’s dad.  He said, ‘people often ask me what I did to create such a wonderful daughter, it’s not what I did, it’s what I didn’t do.  I didn’t clip her wings, I named her, but I did not make her.’  He transferred this power from himself to her, and Malala does the same thing, she is speaking for the 66 million girls who don’t have a voice.”

For more information about Malala and to watch the trailer for the upcoming documentary film about her life, please visit:  http://www.malala.org

 

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