By Calla Gilson
Faculty, students and educators came together in the Jack Morton Auditorium last night to celebrate the launch of I am Malala: A Resource Guide for Educators. As result of several months of collaboration through The Global Women’s Institute of The George Washington University, the resource guide creates a curriculum to accompany the study of Malala Yousafzai memoir I am Malala.
The keynote speaker of the event was Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father and inspiration. He shared with the audience intimate stories of the 17 year old Nobel Laureate’s life and inspirational messages of education and peace for all, emphasizing that her story was, “The story of the valley of Swat,” and the violent events that have recently made headlines across the globe.
Mr. Yousafzai shared his happiness that through the resource guide, “This story is being changed into a story for the generations, for the high schools and universities,” in which students will have the opportunity to learn from Malala’s unwavering courage and strength. He emphasized the importance of teachers and education quality as the foundation for lasting peace. He praised the work of the Global Women’s Institute, calling Malala’s memoir, a “book for connection” for which the resource guide will provide an avenue of application to study.
While Yousafzai talked of progress, he reminded all students in the room to keep in mind the 57 million children currently out of school due to the displacement of various conflicts around the globe, emphasizing that we “can’t live in isolation”. “This is our Earth,” he said. “This is our planet. It is very big if our hearts are big, but it becomes very small if we have poverty of hearts.”
After delivering the keynote speech, Mr. Yousafzai was joined by a variety of contributors to the resource guide as well as experts in peacebuilding, education and women’s issues. Panelists included U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell, Jahan Zeb, adviser to the chair of the Malala Fund, and Ahmad Shah, founding member and president of the Global Peace Council Pakistan. Several representatives of The George Washington University also sat on the panel. Faculty members Dr. Sean Aday, Dr. Kelly Pemberton and Michele Clark spoke on the respective issues that they had authored articles on for the cross-discipline resource guide. The student perspective was well represented by Amira Bakir, Freshman Public Health student and member of the Women’s Leadership Program. The panels were moderated by POLITICO editor Lois Romano and Director of Programs and Development at the Global Women’s Institute, Fernanda Bianchi.
For the full room of attendees, Mr. Yousafzai delivered an impactful message that was echoed by the experts who stood behind him. “Education is very important, peace is very lovely,” he said. “We must be mindful of peace and of our basic human rights before they are usurped by any oppressor.” He concluded by quoting his daughter; “One book, one teacher, one pen, can change the world.”