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An open letter to those who think we should “get over” Trump

Like many of you, my heart sunk into my stomach and churned as I watched the votes come in for Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. I felt the universal pain of anyone who has been discriminated against—women, immigrants, Muslims, minorities, the LGBTQ community, those with disabilities, and the numerous other groups that Trump has been able to offend in such a short amount of time. The sharp pain of the sexual assualt survivors that had to hear this man say that men can “do anything” if they are rich or famous enough. The loss of hope in the children who want to change the future…

It is no secret that I am against what Trump stands for. I cannot simply look past his unreleased tax records, countless lawsuits, and hateful comments toward many groups that I myself or my friends belong to. I have heard some of the people who voted for him say that we can’t take his words too seriously. It’s easy to say this if these words don’t affect you directly or jeopardize your own safety and ability to live freely in this country. I have always been taught to judge someone by their actions and so far, his harsh words have matched many of the things he said that had me so worried.

We were already living in a world where the environment is deteriorating, people are shooting in schools, and groups are divided because of hate. Instead of working on plans to make things better, this president has already created a ban for Muslims, furthered plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico (God help me if I cannot get my avocados), taken away protection for transgender people, and appointed people to his cabinet who are unfit, uninformed, and inexperienced. For any position in this country, you need to have a certain set of skills and experiences to receive the position. It doesn’t make sense as to why this rule isn’t being followed for government positions.

I love this country and one of the beautiful things about it is that we accept those who are different. My grandmother came to this country, like many others, as an immigrant trying to make a better life for herself and her future children. Everyone wants to feel safe and I get that, but spreading hate and shutting people out will only lead to them becoming mad and even more hateful toward us. This can be seen throughout history, which tends to repeat itself. It is also important to note that more guns will not make us safer. They will lead to more deaths and mass shootings, especially since the House approved to do away with background checks for gun sales. Look at the gun deaths for other countries who have stricter gun laws and compare it to the US. There is clearly a problem when the US has about 3 times the gun deaths of any other country and is the world leader in gun violence. That is not something we should ever be proud of. Regulation is key and there needs to be more education about the use of guns and other means of protection in order to decrease these rates.

I am worried about terrorism but the fact of the matter is that most terrorist attacks come from our own citizens. The chances of a terrorist attack being carried out by a refugee is 1 to 3.6 billion per year, which is extremely lower than the chances of getting struck by lightening twice. Refusing refugees who have no other place to go and will die without leaving their country will create hatred against our country. If we open up our country to refugees and help them get through their tough time, we can create more allies and not enemies. Take a look at the current standards for the vetting process. It is extremely difficult already for a refugee to get into the country and there is little to no chance of a terrorist being able to get through that rigorous process.

I highly encourage anyone who stands by Trump’s policies to read the research and not just what they see on their friends’ newsfeeds.

fake news vs real.jpg

As you can see, the most reputable and unbiased sources are the ones in the middle. It just so happens that NPR is one of them and Trump wants to cut funding for it, along with the arts. It seems as though any news that disagrees with Trump or calls him out on his lies is “fake news”. Trump even called CNN fake news when it is clearly a reputable source.

Like I said, I am a proud American, but that does not mean that I have to agree with whatever the president does when I know it is wrong and will have detrimental effects on many different people. Just like any employee would be expected to educate themselves about their position and the issues at hand, it is Trump’s responsibility to consult with others instead of just signing off bills. Whether the president is a democrat or republican, they need to learn to consider what is best for the people as a whole, rather than favoring one particular demographic. Our country was built on fighting against injustices such as racism and inequality. We are also built on the idea of free speech. What the president has done within his short time in office has made me very scared for the future of many aspects of the country that I live in and love. We need to look at the research and understand what is going on instead of blindly believing everything we hear. Although everyone is entitled to opinions, there are some things that are just facts and we need to be aware of these if we want to change our country for the better. We need to treat others with respect and keep everyone safe. We need to promote love and not hate because hate just creates death, war, and even more separation from one another. This country is about coming together no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation, or political party you fall under. Everyone is created equal—not just white men, straight men, Christian men, or men at all—everyone.

 

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Gilmore Girls Revival (Spoiler Alert)

If you are a fan of the classic show, you have probably already binge-watched the 1st season of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. And if you haven’t, stop reading this and go watch it right now!

There were many things I loved about the revival. I loved the nostalgia and the famous lines that were brought back such as “I smell snow”. I also loved how Lorelei and Emily were going to therapy together. As a future psychologist, I really wish this went further and actually helped their relationship. I feel like it would be a good way to patch up some of the grudges that both parties hold for each other and finally come together. I didn’t like how Emily still resented Lorelei for getting pregnant so young, especially because without that event, Rory would not be in their lives. I understand how difficult that must have been but come on you have to forgive eventually.

I liked how they brought many people from the series back. I especially loved the memorial for Rory’s grandfather, who died recently in real life. This made it especially heartfelt and emotional. This scene was especially dramatic and it helped to show just how broken Emily was.

I noticed that there were a lot of strings left untied (besides the ending of course). This is why I feel like there has to be another season. There was a scene where Emily woke up at noon and seemed to be very disoriented. I was immediately wary because I thought that they would go in the direction of Alzheimer’s with that storyline and prepared for the worst. But they didn’t address that incident at all and she seemed to be fine after. Yes, it would be heartbreaking, but now that I think of it, it would be good to shed some light on the topic. Also, because they didn’t have Lorelei and Emily patch things up through therapy, this could be a great way for Lorelei to finally have a motive to set things right with her mother. It would also teach her some responsibility.

I also was confused when Emily mentioned a terrible letter that she thought Lorelei wrote for her. This was not talked about again, so I feel like it would be helpful if we knew more about this letter and who sent it so that Emily isn’t harboring a grudge over something her daughter didn’t even do.

I think it would be interesting if Emily were to have to live below her normal means. Although Richard is gone, there is no income. She needs to be a little more frugal instead of giving money to Lorelei and Rory whenever they need it. I also think it would help if they had more of an incentive to work for it, especially Rory! It is not normal for a 32-year-old Yale graduate at the top-of-her-class to be homeless and jobless. At least get a waitressing job or something to pay the bills!

And about Rory…this made me really upset! Yes, she did have a past of going for the bad boy and even being the other woman, but this was a long time ago! You would think she would learn by now. Especially because she seems to have a large moral compass. Last time we saw her, she was off to cover Obama’s campaign for president. I would think she would be getting into more serious political journalism and working for the New York Times or traveling the world to cover severe injustices. I think that this would have been a great way to show that she is trying to make the world a better place. It would have also made up for the lack of diversity within the entire show (which is a whole different story). I could see the old Rory covering the Syrian refugee crisis and even traveling to war-stricken countries in order to get the real story. I do like that she is a creative writer, but she is so much more than that in the old series. I think it would have been okay if Rory was having a “where do I go next” crisis after being so successful as a journalist, but she was unexpectedly lazy within the last ten years. This was extremely out-of-character for her.

Logan? Seriously? I’m unapologetically Team Jess and wanted more of an interaction with the two. I believe he was Rory’s soul mate and that they would have a great life together. Maybe they both would become writers, who knows? But they had to stick her with Logan who is basically an ass and just reinforcing her non-productive behaviors. I could see them having a painfully boring life and being able to solve all their problems with money. It also goes against everything her mother fought for when she decided not to grow up rich. Rory won’t agree to marry Logan but she has no issue sleeping with him when there’s someone who is engaged to him. Makes perfect sense.

I felt like it was unbelievable for Lorelei to actually think that she was going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The girl cannot go one day without needing people around her. What would she do without Luke constantly fixing things she didn’t even know were broken and there was no mention of how she was going to get her coffee fix! Even some instant coffee would make this more believable. She also doesn’t seem like she’s ever been camping a day in her life, so there’s that and she would not have access to a food place either. It would have been more believable if Lorelei went to find herself on some kind of European food tour or adventure. It would also be amusing to see her interact with people who don’t speak her language and learn more about herself on the way.

How do these girls still eat an amount of food that qualifies under the binge-eating category and not gain weight?! This was completely unrealistic. You would think maybe Jackson and Sookie would open up a farm-to-table restaurant and provide them with fresh, healthy food but no. I love junk food and there’s no shame in that but the amount that they are eating would surely give anyone some type of health problem.

There was also a good amount of shaming in this revival. There was a scene where Emily Gilmore calls a woman with Bipolar Disorder a “nightmare”, which is highly insensitive and ignorant. Then Lorelei and Rory body shame every guy at the pool! You would think that with their love of food, they would understand and be a little more empathetic. Lorelei also jokes about “trigger warnings” which are common for sexual assault victims and those with PTSD. I understand the attempts to be cute but it just did not work.

Although it was 2016, it didn’t feel like 2016. Where was the mention of the ridiculousness of Donald Trump running for president? I would have expected Rory to be covering Clinton’s campaign trail, due to where she left off in the original series.

I did enjoy the Kirk bits but we did not find out if he married Lulu! This was something I was even curious about when the original ended.

I thought it was a little out-of-character for Lorelei to be so against Rory writing a book about their lives. Lorelei is usually very open with people, so why would she be so against it now? You would think she would be excited to be written about since she loves the spotlight. It would be more like Emily to forbid her private details from getting out in public. She could have used her reputation in the community and the DAR as an excuse and then had an epiphany that it was something that needed to be written when she told off the DAR and moved to Nantucket.

While there were many things that needed to be fixed (diversity being the main one), I did enjoy the revival. I think it gave me that sense of what the old series didn’t when it ended and provided a lot of nostalgia for me. I also thought it was super smart that they decided to air it on Thanksgiving weekend. This made it easy to watch when you’re home and gave me a designated time to binge-watch the episodes, rather than taking out time from my busy schedule. I really do hope that the series comes back and maybe even with Rory’s baby already born. It certainly adds a very interesting dynamic to the show now that four generations are included.

What a Trump presidency means for sexual assault victims

Congratulations to those of you who decided that this man who has been notorious for bullying those with disabilities, trash-talking people of other races and religions, and disrespecting women would be a better president than a woman. Now, anyone with a heart would recognize that he is wrong for our country but let’s take a look at something deeper. What does it say if our president already has many sexual assault charges against him before he enters office? During the infamous “bus” conversation with Billy Bush scandal, it was clear that he does not respect women or their right to have a say in what happens to their bodies. This is clearly evidenced by his pro-life views and comment stating that “you can do anything” to a woman and get away with it if you have some sort of high status.

I remember that week being a huge trigger for every single woman who has had an experience with sexual assault. I spoke to my adolescents at work and they were all terrified of the idea of Trump as president. How are they supposed to feel safe when their own President is not punished for sexual assault? How are they supposed to flourish in a world that is constantly shutting them up and telling them to “get over it”? We already have a system that favors the rapist over the victim. Cases like Brock Turner, Anita Hill, Jameis Winston, and those in the documentary Audrie and Daisy have exposed the horror that life becomes once the victim speaks out.

I urge you to take a second and try to imagine what life must be like for anyone, man or woman, who has been sexually assaulted must be like. Having to carry on with work or school because you don’t want to let them ruin your life but at the same time feeling broken, used, and worthless. Being told to “move on” when you are constantly bombarded with flashbacks of the incident and terrified that it might happen again. Not being able to sleep because of the nightmares and not being able to trust anyone. Try to imagine what that can do to a person. They literally become a shell with nothing left inside because society has told them it is not acceptable to talk about it so they have to become numb just to walk around without breaking down.

Make no mistake, the women I work with are strong. It was never their fault. The assault led them to turn to alternative methods to numb or forget the pain. They suffer from eating disorders as well as PTSD, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. It’s heartbreaking that they would have to turn to these methods because being open about it just isn’t acceptable in our society.

You can see the pain in their eyes, the way they carry themselves, and the fear they describe when they talk about men and the possibly of dating in the future. You can feel their despair when you sit down with them when they are breaking down and have no idea how to get the horrible experience out of their minds. Needless to say, their lives can never be the same again.

Many people still defend this man stating that they are “just words” or seem to not classify this as sexual assault. I assume the ones defending him would be other white men who have never been victims of sexual assault or women who clearly cannot empathize with a woman who has been assaulted. These are the same individuals who hold the belief that women are objects instead of people and do not deserve the same amount of respect or rights because of their gender.

But I urge you to read stories of sexual assault victims. Try to see it from their point of view. Be grateful that you were lucky enough to never have to go through anything they do. Be kind to people who feel hurt and scared after this election because you never know what they have been through or are going through.

Yes, we do have to move on eventually but give people time to grieve and make sense of things. This is a decision that affects so many different people and although it may not affect you, it may affect someone you know. And if you care about that person, please let them voice their opinion just like our 1st amendment freely allows us to do. Recognize that there are going to be populations of people who are hurting from this and allow them to feel it.

In order to move on, we need to protect our rights as people. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Even if something may not make you happy or fit your culture, religion, or personal views, you do not have the right to control others. Just let that person be who they are. Is it really affecting you? Do you really need to fixate on what someone else is doing with their life? Stop the hate. Hate will just break you down and hurt others. Focus on making yourself happy and making yourself a better person because that is how we will actually make this nation great.

National Suicide Prevention Week

You may or may not already know but Sept 5th-11th is National Suicide Prevention Week.

Sept. 10th is Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day

Why does this matter?

The national suicide rate is rising (it has increased from 10.5 in 1999 to 13.0 in 2016).

It’s the 2nd leading cause of death for college students and those from ages 15-34.

It’s the 3rd cause of death for ages 10-14 (the suicide rate has been rising for middle schoolers, especially females. Bullying is associated with suicide.)

Every 13 minutes, someone dies by suicide

There are about 117 suicides per day

Over 40,000 Americans die by suicide each year

Native Americans are almost twice as likely to die by suicide

17.7% of high school students have seriously considered attempting suicide within the past year.

8% of high school students have made a suicide attempt within the past year.

It is an issue that affects people regardless of socioeconomic status, race, and other demographic factors.

(CDC, 2016)

How do I know if someone needs help?

If you see someone that seems upset or is just not acting like themselves lately, don’t be afraid to ask them how they are feeling. If you are still concerned, ask if they are thinking about suicide, if they have a plan, and if they have intent or the means to do it (such as pills or a gun).

Use the mnemonic “IS PATH WARM”:

I S

I Ideation

SSubstance Abuse

P A T H

P Purposelessness

A Anxiety

T Trapped

H Hopelessness

W A R M

W Withdrawal

A Anger

RRecklessness

MMood Changes

What do I do if someone needs help?

  • DO NOT leave them alone
  • If you really need to leave, call someone and wait until they can come help
  • Listen to what they have to say
  • Ask if they have intent to harm themselves
  • Ask if they have a plan
  • Ask if they have access to dangerous objects or lethal means
  • Use your judgment—just because they say no or “I’m fine”, doesn’t mean it’s true
  • Contact a mental health professional (preferably their own)
  • Help them call the Prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
  • Call the mobile crisis unit in your area
  • Physically bring them to the hospital or a crisis center
  • Call 911

Why doesn’t anyone want to talk about suicide?

There are many reasons for this and the main one is that there is a stigma around mental illness and suicide that makes people feel like it’s not appropriate to talk about it because it will show weakness or make people uncomfortable.

Many schools, parents, or administrators have the belief that talking about suicide will cause more people to attempt suicide; however, research overwhelmingly shows that the opposite is true (Gould et al., 2005; Robinson et al., 2013).

Not talking about suicide will lead to more suicide attempts and completed suicides. 

Suicide isn’t an idea that comes out of thin air. It comes from an overwhelming amount of stress, helplessness, burdensomeness, and many other factors.

Some suicide threats are not taken seriously because people say they just “want attention”. If they are seeking attention by threatening suicide, there is clearly something wrong and they need to get help. There is still a possibility that they could attempt.

People who battle suicidal thoughts have most likely battled mental illness like depression, or even significant trauma and PTSD.

People who have been struggling with suicidal thoughts can look happy, have jobs, and blend in with society. There isn’t a way to “look” for someone who may be suicidal.

People with suicidal thoughts have had to be strong and hold in their feelings for years. They may have the idea that keeping those feelings in means they are strong, but in reality, it takes much more strength to get help.

What can I do to raise awareness?

It starts at the core of being kind to everyone. You never know what silent battle someone may be struggling with, so always keep that in mind. Think of ways throughout the day that you can make life just a little bit better for someone else.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell people how you feel about them. There are too many times when people end up saying nice things at someone’s funeral or on their Facebook page when they are gone. What if they were able to see those things while they were still alive? What kind of impact could that have made on their life?

Let people know you appreciate them and tell them what you specifically like about them.

Remember, suicide is preventable. We just need to work together in order to help them get help.

Share the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website, facts, videos and change your profile picture banner to support suicide prevention this week.

Participate in an Out of the Darkness walk to support the cause

Resources

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

National Suicide Prevention Week 2016

http://www.sprc.org/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

http://www.itgetsbetter.org/pages/about-it-gets-better-project/?gclid=CKuwoNDM_s4CFcQehgodGg0FnQ

http://www.samhsa.gov/tribal-ttac/resources/suicide-prevention

http://www.nova.edu/suicideprevention/resources.html

http://www.suicidology.org/

References

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db241.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.PDF

Suicide Statistics

http://dmh.mo.gov/docs/mentalillness/joinerpresentation.pdf

Gould, M.S., Marrocco, F.A., & Kleinman, M. (2005). Evaluating iatrogenic risk of youth suicide screening programs: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of American Medical Association, 293(13), 1635-43.

Muehlenkamp, J.J., Marrone, S., Gray, J.S., Brown, D. L. (2009) A college suicide prevention model for American Indian students. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40(2),  134-140. doi: 10.1037/a0013253

Robinson, J., Cox, G., Malone, A., Williamson, M., Baldwin, G., Fletcher, K., O’Brien, M. (2013). A systematic review of school-based interventions aimed at preventing, treating, and responding to suicide-related behavior in young people. Crisis, 34(3), 164–182.

Why you should watch “Last Week Tonight”

It’s difficult for me to keep up with the news. There’s too much going on and so little time. Not to mention that much of the news is bad news. One of the best ways that I have found to stay up-to-date while not becoming super sad is by watching HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”.

He has a British accent

What better way to hear about the news than from a guy with a British accent?

He is not afraid to call out issues that have been swept under the rug for a long time

FIFA’s corruption, televangelists, standardized testing, and the memes with quotes that are entirely false have all been called out by him. He has even helped people realize that stronger regulations need to be placed on these sort of entities.

He is highly entertaining

He has some of the funniest jokes that he brilliantly ties back to previous topics within the segment. He will also do ridiculous things like bring Mike Myers dressed as a mountie or a guy in a ridiculous costume on stage for comedic effect. He will keep you interested while teaching you as well.

He gets very excited about specific topics and goes a little crazy talking about them

He will basically scream about some ridiculous topic for a full minute and it is one of the funniest and most loved parts about the show.

He will make real websites and phone numbers that you can call

And they are hilarious. Check out definitelyrealquotes.com and screamintothevoid.com. He also created his own church and had the funniest automated message.

You can blow off news for a week and still get caught up

Well, for the most part.

TomorrowWorld Fail

TomorrowWorld is one of the biggest music festivals in the world and takes place in Georgia, Brazil or Belgium (Tomorrowland). This is an event that brings in over 150,000 people a year at each location and over 90 million dollars in revenue. People from all over the world fly into the event to see world class DJ’s and artists perform, camp out and meet new friends. It is a bucket list event for anyone who enjoys attending music festivals.

This year, the Georgia festival had more than it’s share of inconveniences. Saturday night, people who were not camping on site were forced to walk 2-8 miles in order to find a cab or an Uber to pick them up and take them to their home, hotel or another campsite. There were supposed to be shuttles that took people back, but apparently there were not enough to accommodate festival goers. Once people reached these pick-up areas, the lines were about three hours long and cabs/Ubers were taking the highest bidder. People were paying around $200 just for a ride back, when they already spent hundreds to thousands of dollars on plane tickets, gas, concert tickets, food and other items. It was even harder for people to get in touch with others because so many people were trying to use the phone lines/Internet at once, making the situation worse. The concert ended around midnight, so people ended up just sleeping on the cold, muddy ground since it was not looking like anyone was getting home any time soon. Here are some pictures of the atrocities:

Girls forced to sleep on the muddy ground, late at night, in the middle of nowhere.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 6.30.44 PM

Completely the opposite of what you think the festival should be like. What is worse is that the festival did not intervene and try to help people who were stranded. At this point, it had gotten so bad that people did not have food, water or shelter. There were also people who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol that could not get the assistance they needed. This lead to illness, injuries and many threats to the safety of these people.

But wait…it gets worse!

TomorrowWorld released a statement Sunday morning stating that only people in “Dreamville” (the camping area) were allowed into the festival that day.  Meaning, anyone who was staying in a hotel, camping somewhere else or was even going to commute to the festival from home, was now not allowed in on the last day of the concert. This was due to the “weather”. It was very muddy and raining, but apparently they did not plan for it to happen, even with the concert being outside. Guests were enraged, as many people were waiting to see these artists or bought 1-day tickets. Even people that bought a ticket to camp but left for the night were not able to come back to pick up their stuff. TomorrowWorld said that they could pick up their stuff on Tuesday, which is laughable because most people leave the day after the concert is over and do not want to make another trip back. the festival did promise a refund, many people paid for plane tickets, gas and hotel rooms that could not be refunded due to the unpreparedness of the festival. Not to mention, the time it takes to travel and how much people were looking forward to going. Now, only 40,000 people were able to go on the last day and TomorrowWorld will most likely never be trusted again.

Currently, TomorrowWorld has not been very apologetic and has not released an official explanation of how the refund will work.

Drug Money

Young CEO Martin Shkerli has been known for his success at a young age, but his success hasn’t exactly come without a price. That is, a price for people with life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS or cancer. Daraprim, a drug that is used by these patients, used to be $13.50 per pill, which is still very pricey. Shkerli raised the price to $750 a pill in just one night. His actions are obviously abominable and he has even been called out by Hillary Clinton. He has been anything but apologetic, as he responded to criticism from the media by implying that they should take a look at his middle finger.

The other thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that many cancer or AIDS patients need to take multiple drugs a day. In that case, even if they could afford the Daraprim, there are many other drugs that they need to pay for in order to be able to live. I can take a wild guess that their insurance isn’t going to pay for most of those expensive drugs, so the rest needs to come out-of-pocket.

Even though this story has recently come out in the news, I am sure it is not the first time this has happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if some companies take advantage of patients by skyrocketing the price of medications. After all, these medications are made primarily for businesses to make money and although they do help people, it is important to keep that in mind.

I Stand with Ahmed

On Monday, September 14th, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed from Irving, Texas was eager to show his teacher that he had made a clock all on his own. Ahmed always had an interest in building things and figuring out how to make them work. He plans to continue this interest in the future by pursuing engineering.

However, instead of his teacher commending his hard work, he was suspected of creating and bringing a bomb to school. It is believed that the main reason why Ahmed was suspected of this was because he was Muslim. Ever since 9/11, Islamophobia has been an issue in the United States. For this oblivious school in Texas, it was unfortunately their first instinct to think that Ahmed had intended to create a bomb, or a “fake bomb” to scare other children or faculty members. This belief held strong within the school, despite Ahmed’s clean disciplinary record, good grades and his insisting that the invention was nothing other than a clock.

The young man says that the police were worried about the “briefcase” the clock was in, which was simply a cheap box that could be found at Target or Walmart to keep the clock protected from damage.

Ahmed was arrested, humiliated in front of the school, and interrogated. He reported feeling as if he wasn’t “human” and as if he was a “criminal”. It is horrible to think that such a talented young man could be singled out in such a way, just because of his ethnicity, religion, and interest in engineering.

On the bright side, many people have spoken out to support this young man and attempt to alleviate some of the misfortune he has experienced. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg invited him to visit the Facebook headquarters, President Obama invited him to the White House and Google invited him to visit their campus. Basically, Ahmed is going to be able to be known by many important people and he may even land a scholarship and acceptance to a top university!

Although it is terrible that Ahmed had to experience this, it is amazing how many people are reaching out and how many opportunities he will receive to hone his talent and advance his future. Keep following your dream, Ahmed!

“I don’t want to go to school!”

Whether you are in pre-school or Grad school, this is a common phrase that either you or someone you know has probably said within the past week. It’s so hard waking up in the morning, trying to find time to eat breakfast AND make lunch, and getting there on time while looking good. It can be downright exhausting, right? I have to admit that I have been a repeat offender when it comes to this phrase. It just seems like so much work when you could be having fun. But my perspective changed when I heard about a young woman named Malala.

As a resident of the United States, I have limited knowledge of just how terrible the situation in the Middle East is. I try to keep up-to-date on the happenings in places like Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, but I will never really know just how horrible it is because I haven’t experienced it for myself. I consider myself to be highly empathetic, so I can imagine it, but I can never really know what it is like.

In case you don’t know who Malala is, let me introduce her:

Now 18, Malala has accomplished so much in so little time, despite so many challenges. The first, living in an area of Pakistan ruled by the Taliban, who banned girls from going to school. Malala and her friends knew that they were risking their lives everyday by going to school, but they were brave enough to take that risk because education was that important to them.

Malala started to write anonymous stories about her life under Taliban rule. The stories gave insight to the struggles she went through and allowed people to understand just how bad the situation was. Eventually, the Taliban discovered that the true author behind the diary was Malala, so they set out to kill her.

When she was only 15, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban. Luckily, the bullet ended up in her shoulder, so she was able to survive and work past the injuries. It did not do any damage to her brain. Although she survived, she knew the Taliban would just keep coming after her until she was dead, so she fled to the United Kingdom.

She became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and spoke at the United Nations on her 16th birthday. She also got to meet Queen Elizabeth II, Obama and many other important people. She wrote and published a book about how she was shot by the Taliban and how she was adjusting to her new life in a new place. On her 18th birthday, she opened an all-girls school for Syrian refugees.

Needless to say, I know that I am grateful for having the opportunity to get such a great education, but I know that I need to express it more. I could definitely benefit from less complaining and thinking from another perspective. There are so many women in the world who cannot get an education due to circumstances beyond their control. I am so lucky to be able to receive any degree I want. There is no limit to the amount of knowledge I am allowed to consume. Money is not even an issue because I live in a country that allows students to receive loans for their education. Although it is something I will have to pay back later, it will be worth it because I got the education I needed for my desired profession.

This isn’t just going on in the Swat Valley in Pakistan, where Malala is from. This is happening in many war-torn countries such as Syria and places in Africa. Children and women are being robbed of their education because they fear for their lives. Education shouldn’t be something that has to be fought for—it should be an inherent right for everyone.

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