2014 Peace Essay Contest High School Winners

First Place, Robin Schwartzkopf, gr. 9, Maggie Walker Governor’s School;

Second Place, Maxwell Cloe, gr. 10, Hanover HS, Hanover Co. Public Schools;

Third Place, Rebekah Luck, gr. 10, Hanover HS;

Honorable Mentions:

Ashton Hughes, gr. 10, Hanover HS;

Mary Frances Kastelberg, gr. 10, Hanover HS;

Kush Shah, gr. 9, Henrico HS, Henrico Co. Public Schools;

Victoria Yang, gr. 10, Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology, Alexandria

 

 
Robin Schwartzkopf, First Place, Grade 9, Maggie Walker Governor’s School

Hawaiian Peace

Peacemaking has never been an easy task, suited for the faint of heart. Such fragile spirits crack under the pressure of an international community that supports, but does not practice, peaceful relations. Sometimes peace can only be achieved through submission: a variety of giving up; of shrugging one’s shoulders and saying ‘alas, we tried, and we are better because of it.’ Queen Lili’uokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii, was a stalwart and headstrong leader that sprang into office with all intention to maintain the kingdom’s stance as a free country. She may not have been successful, but her heart, mind, and will for peace procured for her a legacy as a peacemaker.

Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha was born in Hawaii to a chief and chieftess, who were advisors to the king at the time. Her family rose in political power, and before long her brother, Kalākaua, became king. He proclaimed Lili’u his heir, and from then on she was called Lili’uokalani as a mark of her great intelligence and quick wit. When he died, Lili’uokalani ascended the throne. Her early days as the Queen of Hawaii were focused on amending and appealing the constitution that her brother was forced into signing while in office.

As a ruler, Lili’uokalani sought to bring peace and prosperity to her nation through increasing the rights of native Hawaiians and Asians, many of whom suffered economic instability. Unfortunately, many Americans and Europeans mistrusted her political action and began to plan to depose her. Annexation became an increasingly likely and fortuitous venture for America, whose economy had a certain sweet tooth for Hawaii’s main export: sugar.

Despite many powerful international enemies, Queen Lili’uokalani remained devoted, refusing to give up hope in her country. However, the will of America and its “Committee of Safety” was too strong, and the Queen agreed to give up her throne without violence, in order to spare the islands from any crippling wars. Her number one priority remained to protect the Hawaiian people; she did not want any of her subjects to shed blood. In 1893, Hawaii officially became a protectorate of the United States, with a provisional government. Queen Lili’uokalani hoped that one day the government would be turned back to its rightful ruler and the temporal one would dissolve. Her dream died with her in 1917, but Hawaii will always remember their last ruler: a strong-willed and peaceful-minded woman.

Queen Lili’uokalani used her devotion, her mind, and her creativity to attempt to save Hawaii. Alas, some might say that she is a failure. After all, her kingdom did not survive. It fell to the proverbial ‘man,’ the big boss of the west. The United States would adopt it, first as a territory and then as the fiftieth state, but Lili’uokalani did more than submit. Her rule was modeled for peace, and everything she did was to keep her people safe. Even while in jail, the Queen remained strong, saying, “it was the intention of the officers of the government to humiliate me by imprisoning me, but my spirit rose above that. I was a martyr to the cause of my people, and was proud of it.”

As a model for young girls and grown women alike, Queen Lili’uokalani showed that politics and power are not the trifles of men but a struggle for all on the earth, male and female. When she visited Washington D.C, the Queen lamented that she faced adversity not only because of her race but also because she was a powerful woman. These mutterings in the street, however, did nothing to provoke a costly war. She proved that peaceful minds could govern and that the most important part of ruling a people is exactly that: the people. Lili’uokalani and her subjects shared a bond of loyalty and trust, down to her last day.

We, as global citizens, can still employ her methods in the politics of today. Women especially become more and more interested and representative in politics as the 21st century speeds along, and the game of international relations is no longer played merely by white men. The last Queen of Hawaii showed us that sometimes peaceful submission is the only way to be truly independent, if it means the protection of our community. She was strong-willed, intelligent, and remains today a wonderful role model for young girls and boys to achieve their dreams, but remain mindful of the consequences of their actions. As she said almost directly after signing over her nation, “to prevent the shedding of the blood of my people, natives and foreigners alike, I opposed armed interference, and quietly yielded to the armed forces brought against my throne… and have pursued the path of peace.”

 

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Maxwell Cloe, Second Place, Grade 10, Hanover HS, Hanover Co. Public Schools

Righteous Among Nations

Rarely in history does a man arrive who holds the lives of thousands in his hands. It is rarer that this man struggles with all his being to keep them alive and succeeds. This sort of man is a savior to his allies, a fiend to his opposition, and a hero to history. Most importantly, this man is a peacemaker, one who endlessly lives for the cause that all should live in harmony. Oskar Schindler is this sort of man. Oskar Schindler is a model peacemaker for his accomplishments, his noble traits exhibited, and his lasting legacy on history.

It is October. The year is 1939. A month earlier, the German military forces, under the command of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, had invaded and conquered Poland. This was a time of war. An Austrian-born Nazi spy had just arrived to his new apartment in Krakow, Poland. This man was Oskar Schindler. Shortly following his arrival, Schindler was alerted of the fact that many Jewish businesses had been shut down. Immediately intrigued, Schindler brought up the records of a bankrupted enamelware business that he wished to own. As a result of his status and the help of a group of investors, Schindler leased Emalia, a major producer of Nazi enamelware during the Second World War. Schindler hired almost 300 people, most of whom were Jewish. Primarily, Schindler was solely interested in the acquisition of money, as Jews were cheaper than Germans. This miserly state changed as his company reached almost 1,700 employees, almost all Jewish. Schindler began to protect his workers, regardless of cost. In 1940, Governor Hans Frank commanded all Jews in Krakow to leave and go to the Podgorze Ghetto. Seeing this, Schindler increased the size of his factory; adding a clinic, a kitchen, and other expansions. In the following years, the Nazis tightened their grip on the Jews. They began sending innocent men, women, and children to concentration camps, unless they were in direct assistance to the war. These events climaxed in March of 1943, when Podgorze was liquidated. Thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps and hundreds more were killed in the streets. Having advance knowledge of this liquidation, Schindler commanded his workers and many other Jews to spend the nights in his factory, until the bloodshed had finished. Appalled by this tyranny, Schindler cut ties with the Nazis.

Later, the infamous Plaszow concentration camp opened two miles from Emalia. This camp, commanded by the sadistic Amon Goth, was to include all factories, including Schindler’s, within its gates, to keep the Jews at close watch. In a moment of wit and diplomacy, Schindler convinced Goth not only to keep the factory outside of Plaszow gates, but to add living quarters for his own workers and 500 neighboring Jews. In 1944, the Nazis demanded that all factories not making weapons be closed down. Goth allowed Schindler to move his factory to the Czech Republic to manufacture grenades. Schindler compiled a list of 1,200 Jews that were to work at his factory. In this new factory, Schindler took better care of his workers than ever. The rations provided by the Nazis were incapable of feeding every worker, so Schindler used his ties to the black market to secure more. During this time, Schindler also arranged for the transfer of almost 3,000 Jewish women to textile factories, saving them from death at the concentration camps. On May 7th, 1945, Schindler gathered his workers to listen to Winston Churchill’s announcement of German Surrender. The war was over; Schindler’s workers were safe.

Oskar Schindler’s accomplishments would be a fraction of what they were if it were not for his outstanding qualities. Of these qualities, the most prominent was his everlasting sense of caring. Throughout his career, evil, hatred and tyranny were sown throughout. Yet, he understood that a human is a human, regardless of religion or gender. He didn’t save his workers simply for money or recognition. He was quoted as saying, “I felt that the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them, there was no choice.” However it takes backbone to get things finished. This is where Schindler’s other qualities come into play, perseverance and cleverness. He was capable of talking and bribing his way through any situation. He utilized his connections to the best of his ability, using it to escape from prison thrice, convincing Goth to allow him to build factory additions, and avoiding detection while harboring Jewish refugees. His final quality exhibited was his striving to keep all equal. He gladly gave up his wealth to purchase medicine and rations for his workers. He used his Nazi ties to protect his workers from raids and executions. He provides a perfect example as to why one should not expect another to act based on scarce information about them. Despite being a Nazi, he exhibited kindness and decency towards all.

The true mark of a peacemaker is their legacy left on the world. Oskar Schindler is credited with 1,200 Jewish lives, not including hundreds of other lives saved by moving Jews out of camps. Two decades after the war, Schindler was recognized by the Jewish as “Righteous Among the Nations,” a title given to Gentiles greatly influenced Jewish Culture. Since the war, his life has been immortalized in numerous forms of art in the media. The novel Schindler’s Ark, by Thomas Keneally, was released in 1982. This inspired Schindler’s List, a 1993 movie directed by Steven Spielberg. This movie, based on Keneally’s novel, grossed over $300 million and received seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In 2004, The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, forever sealing Schindler’s place in history.

Schindler is an exception of mankind. He is one that will forever be remembered by the lives he’s touched, the people he’s saved, and the barrier’s that he’s broken. His legacy of hope and intelligence will live on in history for generations to come. He truly is a peacemaker.

 

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Rebekah Luck, Third Place, Grade 10, Hanover HS, Hanover Co. Public Schools

Pay It Forward Kids

By definition, a peacemaker is a person, group, or nation that tries to make peace, especially reconciling parties who disagree, quarrel, or fight. So does a peacemaker have to be someone that everyone knows internationally? Brother and sister, Jack and Madi Praver are definitely not internationally known, but still hope to change the world. They started a local organization in Virginia Beach called Pay It Forward Kids to “try and make the world a little bit better place to be” as it says in their mission statement. With hopes this high, it requires the qualities of other peacemakers such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Mahatma Gandhi. On their website, www.payitforwardkids.org, they have a modified quote from Gandhi originally saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” now saying, “We will be the change we ALL want to see in the world.” Even though they are kids, through kindness, leadership, and optimism, they can make a difference.

This past December, Jack did 25 days of random Christmas kindness. He left gift cards in the windshield wipers, put all the stray carts back in the front from the parking lot, donated to the local fire department, gave hot chocolate to the Salvation Army bell ringer, and bought the police officer behind them coffee and a donut. To top it all off, they bought food for family with a child fighting cancer. There is a quote on their Facebook page that says, “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same,” from Og Mandino. Kindness is a nonviolent way to resolve conflict. It creates a safe and calm environment to help people of the community cooperate. Just by being nice, people realize what good deeds are being done around them and decide to do the same. That’s how peacemakers are made.

Taking that step and being kind to someone you may not know can be hard, but leadership is another great quality of a peacemaker. Jack was 11 years old when the Facebook page, Pay It Forward Kids, was made in 2011. He is taking action and starting something that could potentially be huge. With the help of his family, friends, and other people willing to support the cause, big things could happen. By being a manager of the Facebook page, Jack is creating more leaders to become peacemakers. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing guide initiating a movement toward freedom. A good quote from him: “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” I feel as if confidence is like a sub-quality of leadership. When you are the director of something, you have to have faith that it will work. You can’t worry about what other people will think, say, or even do. You can’t search for consensus like everyone else, you have to be the person to mold it and transform it to be what you want it to be.

On the Facebook page there is a quote from Mandy Hale, the author of The Single Woman, saying, “A great attitude becomes a great day which becomes a great month which becomes a great life”. As a leader, you have to be optimistic. Optimism is a wonderful peacemaker quality because it all starts with a good attitude. You can change someone’s life with just a smile. The hopefulness that his efforts are going to change the world is one of the best attributes Jack and his family has. The biography on the Facebook page reads, “My name is Jack. I am going to change the world. One good deed at a time. Why not join me? For kids, by kids, Pay it Forward KIDS!!” He must have read the quote from Gandhi saying, “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it even if I may not have in the beginning,” because he states that he is going to change the world as simply as if he were going to ride his bike down the street.

Kids everywhere are making a difference by being kind, optimistic leaders. Jack has changed the lives of many people and will continue to affect the people around him wherever he goes. We can follow in his footsteps and reach out to the less fortunate, help the weary hearted, and be aware of the possibilities to change someone’s life at any given time. With all the amazing attributes of a peacemaker that Jack has and all the help he can get from people like us, he is sure to meet his goal of changing the world.

 

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Ashton Hughes, Honorable Mention, Grade 10, Hanover HS.

Pint Sized Peacemaking

News channels are constantly broadcasting headlines about war almost 24 hours every day. Who will have the boldest story? Which network will have the highest ratings? It’s a constant stream of international violence twisted into a clever tagline. Children are exposed to this chaos without much of a say or a chance to think for themselves. A 10 year old girl, from Manchester, Maine changed that stigma. Samantha Smith wrote a simple letter to an official to have her voice heard. Samantha Smith changed the image of a peace activist due to her determination in finding out answers, fearlessness in being bold, and her desire for a better world for all people.

In 1982, there was much international tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Yuri Andropov had just emerged as the Soviet Union’s new leader and people were terrified of instability in the western world. Not only was President Ronald Reagan feeling the pressure, but Andropov as well. There was a threat of nuclear war, and people all over the world were on edge. Samantha Smith was one of those people. She was determined to know why this man wanted to start a war. She addressed her letter to Mr. Andropov, and asked the question most around the world were wondering, “Are you going to vote for a war, or not?” Her letter was published in the Soviet newspaper Pravda, and within six months she received a response from the man himself. Samantha’s determination was admirable. She also displayed that it doesn’t always take a man in a fancy suit to accomplish something monumental.

Samantha Smith’s fearlessness was one of her many attributes that led to her being so successful. After she received a response from Andropov, she became the center of a media circus. She took it all in stride explaining she simply, “was worried about nuclear war.” In such a tense time a little girl not only requested but insisted on a response to the questions she held dearly. Before she received a reply from the Soviet leader she sent another letter to the Soviet embassy wondering why she hadn’t gotten a response yet. Samantha Smith was bold. She took the future of the world she would’ve soon inherited into her own hands.

The true purpose of the letter was peace. In Mr. Andropov’s response, Samantha was invited to Moscow. There, she began writing about how the Soviets were “just like us.” She appreciated the diversity of both her home nation and this foreign land, in which all she had been exposed to previously was negativity. In a time when so many saw a great divide between people, Samantha Smith saw unity. She saw solution. Her invitation to the Soviet Union and transformation into “America’s Youngest Ambassador,” was a stepping stone in the ending of the Cold War.

When she returned to the states she was welcomed as a celebrity. Her idealism of a happy relationship between nations was one so many dream of, but never act upon. Sadly, Samantha Smith died in a plane crash at the age of 13, although her legacy remained strong. Over 1,000 people attended her funeral, a personal letter of condolence was submitted by the Soviet leader at the time, Mikhail Gorbachev, and President Ronald Reagan sent a letter to Samantha’s mother explaining that millions will cherish her unaffected sweet spirit. Samantha Smith was a role model for many more than just children. By demonstrating one of the most successful exercises in diplomacy, in history, she proved that people have a voice, no matter what age they are. Anyone can make a difference with determination, courage, and desire. People can follow her example by not being clouded with society’s view, but instead, your view. By demanding to be heard and forming our own opinions, we can make a difference, without being influenced into thinking or feeling a certain way. Samantha Smith is an incredible example that peace comes at all ages.

 

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Mary Frances Kastelberg, Honorable Mention, Grade 10, Hanover HS

Peace Teacher

A peacemaker can be anyone. Anyone who is willing to stand up for what they believe is right. They attempt to make the world, with its disturbing realities, a better place. They can be of any age, any race, and social class. The people who are peacemakers do not have to be international heroes. They can be as small or insignificant as teachers or firefighters. People can become international heroes through their actions, and through others spreading their story and movement. Erin Gruwell, a former teacher of Woodrow Wilson High School, is a peacemaker and hero for the lives of students through the establishment of the Freedom Writers Foundation. Her accomplishments, admirable qualities, and her legacy are what make her a modern-day peacemaker.

Prior to being a Congresswoman, Erin Gruwell was assigned to a classroom of high school students who despised being there. In 1994, this particular class in Woodrow Wilson High School was said to be “un-teachable”, by the rest of the staff, as many of them had troubled childhood and young teen years. The racial hatred and the alienation among the students was one of many problems, as well as extremely low test scores due to lack of motivation. Gruwell soon realized that these students would not benefit from the standard curriculum. She began to make teaching the students tolerance her biggest concern, despite lack of support from colleagues. The students studied literature about teenagers who had faced and overcome obstacles. Gruwell assigned the students to keep journals, in which they would write about their lives. Soon the students united through the words they wrote. They realized that if they could relate to teenagers in fiction or those who had lived in the past, they could also relate to each other. The journals became a vessel of unity and acceptance. The issues written in these journals were similar to challenges that most of the other students had experienced, such as family complications, drama between friends, and first relationships. Erin Gruwell taught the students not only what was required of her to teach, but also life lessons such as the importance of love and tolerance. They became the Freedom Writers, the name that Gruwell later used to establish the Freedom Writers’ Foundation; a foundation with the mission to turn children away from violence and adversity through writing.

Gruwell taught for the first time at Woodrow Wilson High. She faced the challenging classroom in which she was assigned with grace. She taught right after the L.A. Riots and the city was in disarray. The L.A. Riots erupted with violence after the police force in Los Angela’s turned to brutal measures and the people started retaliating. The instability of the riots projected on to the students. Gruwell had bravery to teach these children and not let the intimidation and challenges facing her keep her in the way of changing their lives. Her creativity to strategize a curriculum that focused on tolerance and reached out to her students enabled her to make such a strong impression on their lives. She was determined to keep working for change despite the resistance of the students. Her spirit and grace enabled her to become a hero of the children she taught, and to change their lives. She continues to touch the hearts of many students through the Freedom Writers’ Foundation.

Erin Gruwell taught the students respect and tolerance. A lot of today’s problems come from the lack of acceptance, tolerance, and respect among our people. This problem will never be completely solved, but can be greatly decreased if everyone acknowledges the need for tolerance and respect. She used out of the box strategies to stand up and change something. She never gave up on her students, realizing that children develop hate and intolerance at a young age if not taught compassion and sensitivity. She used something as simple as a journal to discourage children from violence. All of this was done because she was willing to stand up for what she believed in. The students she taught have become part of the Freedom Writers’ Foundation as well, they are mentoring students and speaking about the importance of unity and what can be accomplished through writing.

Erin Gruwell united students who believed they had nothing in common. She is a peacemaker among the youth but could be seen as an international hero as well, for spreading the message of the Freedom Writers’ to schools everywhere. Her qualities enabled her to accomplish all she did and continues to do, and she should be seen as a role model for people to stand up and make a difference. The world without peacemakers would be a place without appreciation of others, and without change or love. They unite us all, no matter how insignificant they may seem.

 

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Kush Shah, Honorable Mention Grade 9, Henrico HS, Henrico Co. Public Schools

Mahatma Gandhi: Hero of Peacemaking

Many people around the world have different methods of uniting the people under a common enemy to attain peace. Some of those individuals include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi in particular used non-violent movements and his unwavering belief in pacifism as a means of obtaining peace for the people of India. He wanted to protest to make India independent from British colonial rule. Eventually, he accomplished this goal and the British left an independent India. He was able to accomplish his goals because he had many attributes that made him both an inspirational leader and someone that the people could sympathize with. We can use Mahatma Gandhi’s example to promote peace and equality in our own neighborhoods.

During his lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi accomplished his ultimate goal of liberating India from the control of the British government. He held many non-violent protests and marches in opposition of the British regime in India. Even though these acts of defiance resulted in him getting imprisoned for acting out, he continued to persevere though as the imprisonments only served to strengthen his resolve. He also urged the people of India to be non-violent and to protest the British rule through civil disobedience. In 1947, he spearheaded the negotiation talks between the British government and the Indian government that eventually led to India regaining their independence. India, though, was not the only place where he worked to make things better for the people that lived there. After he graduated from Oxford in law, he went to South Africa as an aspiring lawyer and spent 20 years defending the rights of immigrants that came there.

The things that Mahatma Gandhi was able to accomplish in his lifetime were no easy tasks by any means. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of time. Gandhi had many qualities that made him an effective leader. Gandhi was a true master of patience. He was imprisoned several times over the course of many years but that never deterred him from his ultimate goal of liberation. He worked towards Indian independence for many years until it finally happened. Gandhi also had a lot of humility. He was never one to boast about his many accomplishments and he downplayed them as well. Gandhi was a sympathizer as well. He was able to sympathize with the people. He had the opportunity as an aspiring lawyer to live a lavish lifestyle but he chose not to. He chose to lead a simple life with very little worldly possessions.

Finally, we can use Mahatma Gandhi as an example of how we should act in our own community. Gandhi protested to give the Indian people their independence back but he also fought to make life equal for all people. We can follow that example in our own communities by being upstanders instead of bystanders. Bullying is a major problem in today’s society and we can take measures to prevent this. If you see a person being bullied, you should help them. You don’t even actually have to get involved in the physical altercation, all you have to do is go and get an adult and let them handle the situation. This is an immense help to the person that is being bullied and they would be grateful. Also, it is just the right thing to do and it makes you feel good when you know you are helping another person. This single act of kindness can have a chain reaction and lead others to follow your example and take the initiative to help others in need.

By following the example that was set by Mahatma Gandhi and helping others, especially when they are in need, we can make our community a better place for all to live in. Obviously, this is no easy task. People have to take the initiative and set an example for others to follow. To do this, people have to express a lot of the attributes that were exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi. People also have to set goals for themselves so that they can push themselves to accomplish those goals like Gandhi did. Mahatma Gandhi was able to accomplish many things in his lifetime that benefited many people. Many people around the world followed his example. One in particular, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was actually friends with Gandhi and they spent many years writing to each other. King also used non-violence to unite the people to achieve equality for all. Eventually, their works led to a long lasting and peaceful time for generations to come.

 

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Victoria Yang, Honorable Mention, Grade 10, Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology, Alexandria, VA

Malala Yousafzai: Determination and Resilience

The youngest person to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai, is only a little over a year older than I am, but what she has achieved in her sixteen years far surpasses anything that my peers or I would ever dream of accomplishing. Since childhood she has been an advocate for girls’ education, something that in America is often taken for granted. It is almost impossible for me to fathom a society in which my right to an education was in jeopardy solely based on my gender, but this is the society that Malala lives in.

But instead of backing down, Malala has risen to meet the challenges she faces and is actively taking a stand— as early as 2008 she gave a speech titled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to an education?” In 2009, she continued speaking out, blogging under the pseudonym Gul Makai for the BBC about the Taliban’s attempts to take away her basic rights.

Her achievements are marked by accolades such as a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize, two nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, and selection as the 2013 runner-up for TIME’s Person of the Year, but the biggest indication of her resolve for peace is her pure selflessness and determination. In 2012, Malala and her family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her and her family. However, instead of fearing for her own safety, her biggest concern was her father and his well-being because she thought that the Taliban would not kill a child. Her instinct to put others before herself is something those of us who aren’t vying to be world leaders can still learn from. She also still sees the good in people, even after the fated October 9th assassination attempt that made her a household name. “You must not treat others that much with cruelty and that much harshly,” she said on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. “You must fight others, but through peace and through dialogue and through education.”

She wishes to make a worldwide impact, saying “I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” Her creation of Malala Fund means that her dream is just one step closer to becoming a reality and she is a constant reminder of how one person can make a huge difference. At just sixteen, her ideas and dreams have traveled and garnered support from celebrities and citizens across the world. She may be just one girl, but her dreams have resonated with so many people and have encouraged them to pursue their dreams.

Her resilience is another contributing factor to her overwhelming success. She continued going to school less than a year after the injury that put her in critical condition, and she is only becoming more and more active, especially on the international stage. She marked her 16th birthday by speaking at the United Nations, saying “…they thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed.” She added another large feat to her resume almost exactly a year after her assassination attempt, releasing her autobiography “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” which went on to be a New York Times bestseller.

Malala was brought up in a place where she constantly feared for her life, yet she spreads a message of nonviolence and compassion and she shows a maturity well beyond what is expected of her. “I do not even hate the Talib who shot me,” she said at the UN. “Even if there was a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him.” Her message of forgiveness and peace is something all global citizens can draw upon to live their lives. If she can forgive someone who made an attempt on her life, then we all should be able to forgive.

Malala is motivation for everyone across the world to stand up for what they believe in and is a constant reminder of “…why should I wait for someone else…? Why don’t I raise my voice, why don’t we speak up for our rights?” She encourages everyone to take action toward the problems they see; she is an inspiration to be unafraid, speak out, and remember that “one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”

 

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