Role Models & Heroes: Malala Yousafzai (2018)

By March 3, 2018 November 15th, 2018 Bnei Mitzvah, Heroes & Role Models

The following essay about Stan Lee was written by Chloe Genick, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project; an example of this last component can be seen below. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as his/her self confidence and overall maturity.

A role model to me is someone I admire and look up to. It’s also someone who inspires me. When I think of a role model I imagine who I would like to be when I grow up. When it was time to start thinking about who I wanted my role model to be, I decided that I wanted it to be someone who had those traits. I wanted to be able to write about the person without getting bored. This was difficult for me because I was never asked this question before, so I didn’t know who to write about. Shortly after I started thinking about who I wanted my person to be, I was advised to select someone who I felt shared similar values with me. Obviously, there were many people who I look up to but don’t share my values.

As I was researching people, I came across an article I read three years ago, when I was in the 4th grade. It was stuffed in a folder that was hidden in my closet. It was about Malala Yousafzai. She is a women’s rights activist who has devoted her life to help educate girls, which led her to win a Nobel Peace Prize at just 17 years old. She was the youngest person to ever win. I thought back to 4th grade when we did a class lesson about her and learned about her bravery.

Before finally selecting Malala as my role model, I went online and read presentations and articles about her life. I admire her because she doesn’t let anything stop her from getting what she wants, which reminds me of myself. Not only did she fight through dangerous and hard times, but she also didn’t let anything get in her way, which is what I admire most about her.  This led me to want to learn more about her.

Malala was born on July 12th, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan. She was mostly educated by her father, who is a poet alongside many other jobs. Early in Malala’s life she wanted to be a doctor, but her father encouraged her to be a politician. She started speaking about education rights early on in her life. Her love for public speaking and helping young kids started in 2008, when her father took her to Peshawar to speak at the local press club. A year later, in 2009, Malala started as trainee, and then became a peer educator, in the “Institution for War and Peace Reporting.

On October 9th, 2012, when Malala was on her way to school with other children, a masked gunman who was part of the Taliban, entered the school bus and asked, “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot at you all.” Malala was identified and was shot. The bullet went through her head, neck and shoulders. Two other girls were injured but not nearly as badly as Malala. The Taliban targeted Malala because she was against what they believed in. Malala spoke in public venues about equality for women and the Taliban did not approve of that. The shooting left her in critical condition. She was flown to a military hospital in Peshawar. A portion of her skull was removed to help relieve the swelling of her brain. To further her treatment, she was transferred to Birmingham, England. Once she was in the UK she was taken out of a medically induced coma. Although she still needed multiple surgeries- including repair of a facial nerve to fix the paralyzed left side of her face- she fortunately suffered no major brain damage. In March 2013, she started attending school in Birmingham. She stayed there because there was better education equality and she felt safer.

Shortly after her recovery, on her 16th birthday, Malala gave a speech at the United Nations about what she went through with the Taliban and her journey to promote gender equality in education.  She also wrote an autobiography called I Am Malala, which was released in October 2013. Unfortunately, the Taliban still considers Malala a target to this day.

Malala works hard to help young women gain education equality. In 2015, on her 18th birthday, she created The Malala Fund, an organization started to help children go to school in places where education might otherwise be denied to them. You can go online and donate a certain amount of money to help kids who are out of school. The Malala Fund also has a website devoted to raising awareness for girls’ education. The fund helps develop education leaders and organizations.
Malala has also received many awards and honors for her commitment to activism, such as the Nobel Peace Prize, the Sakharov Prize, the Simone de Beauvoir Prize, and honorary Canadian citizenship.  Additionally, she was a runner-up for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2012, and the audio version of her book, I Am Malala, won a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album in 2015.

One of the reasons I chose Malala as my role model is because she shares similar values with me. I think that Malala demonstrates courage, kindness, and honesty, and she values education.

Malala exemplifies kindness, because she clearly shows how she wants to help the world create equal opportunity for everyone.

Courage is a value that Malala exhibits, because she was targeted by the Taliban, got shot in the head and still receives death threats but she still fights for the things she believes are right.  She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, and thus, has achieved one of the highest honors in the world, the Nobel Peace Prize.

Education is what Malala is fighting for and that’s one of my personal values. She wanted to be able to have the same kind of education as a man, which is something I admire. This shows me that she doesn’t believe that women should be offered a lower quality education, or none at all, and that everyone deserves to be viewed on the same level and have the same educational opportunities, and this is something I feel very strongly about as well.

I have also listened to Malala speak, and she is honest about her life journey, what happened to her and what she thinks the world should be like. I look up to Malala because I know she is trying to help our world get better, and because of her efforts, we are all one step closer to equality. Malala has helped everyone realize we all have the same abilities and can do the same amazing things, regardless of nationality or gender.
This is just a brief overview of Malala’s accomplishments thus far. She is still making a difference in so many people’s lives right now. She is a great role model for so many people. Her values intertwine with my own which is what makes her such a special role model for me.

I could not imagine going through what she went through. I would of probably not have been as brave and strong. I would try to do what she did and speak up although I know that I would have probably been scared.