A wonderful article looking at the hard history of asylums and the entrance of those with disabilities into the public experience.
This week, the Nobel Peace Prize was given out to two people: Pakistani child education activist, Malala Yousafzai and Indian child rights campaigner, Kailash Satyarthi “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
While I admittedly have not heard a lot about Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, I have heard about Ms. Malala Yousafzai’s struggle and courage in speaking up for the right to education for children in Pakistan and ultimately the world. She has made her stand against the Taliban and was attacked because of her convictions.
It all started because she wanted to learn. She wanted what was a given for free in America, and she was willing to put her life on the line to get the chance at an education. Due to her very vocal advocacy for the right to education, the Taliban put out an assassination hit against her. A hit man boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, then proceeded to open fire. Malala was hit with a single bullet that went through her head, neck, and shoulder. Two of her friends were also injured.
It was a miracle that she lived.
But, her conviction was so strong, that she refused to be cowed by the Taliban. She continued to speak out regarding the need for all children to have equal access to education. She also continued to attend school.
It got me thinking about how Americans regards our education. We have the ability and the means for every single person in the United States to have a well rounded education. We even offer Running Start where high school students have the option of attending community college for free and so many students don’t use it. They could graduate with their high school diploma and an Associates of Arts degree which would jump start graduate school degrees.
We live in a world where children are being doused with acid on the way to learn their alphabet. We also live in a world where those who have the privilege to get homework, find excuses to never complete it, and accuse the teachers of wanting to sabotage them.
We live in a world where:
66 million girls are out of school worldwide.
Every 3 seconds a girl becomes a child bride.
4 out of 5 Human Trafficking victims are girls (malala.org)
And why is that? Because those women do not have a chance at education. Education is power. That is why Malala was attacked. She had gained power because she was learning the world and her place in it.
I remember going through school and how I struggled for my education. I was surrounded with children who school came rather easy to, but because of my various ‘disabilities’ and ‘IEP’s’ I had to work hard for every good grade I got. I appreciated my schooling. No A needs to be given easily, neither does a B or a C. Grades need to be given out for the work given. The last two years of my high school, I was in a private school, I will admit it freely, I did NOT do the work needed.
At the end of the semester, my parents and I sat in front of the principal and I was asked to give myself a grade. I gave myself a C. The principal said that that was too harsh and that I needed at least a B+. What does that teach a student? How does that prepare them for life? It doesn’t. My parents, but more importantly, I, stood firm that I deserved a C because I didn’t do the work that I was capable of.
Do you know what I regret most in my education? Those wasted months where I didn’t work hard. I had all of this power at my fingertips and I didn’t take advantage of it.
I love school. I love learning. I love education. I wish that love could be instilled in every student who has the privilege of school.
Where we live in a world where students are taught for free under a bridge in India because they can’t afford school fees, American children can’t keep their eyes open through an hour class. What are we missing?
We have allowed the government to put their fingers in our schools so that history, math, science, literature–all have been affected by their dabbling. What can happen when a governing body uses their politics to control the populace? Education is always one of the first things suffer. What do we hear during tax hikes? “We can’t afford for this class to continue.” “Music classes need to stop.”
We allow sports to have more money and power in a school than something that can actually further the ability to learn. Music has been scientifically proven to help memory as well as teach retention and problem solving, but it is almost always the first ‘extracurricular’ class to go when money is tight. We always have the money though to fight for our football teams…
There is something very wrong with our priorities.
What can we learn from women like Malala? Can we learn to love our education? Can we learn to give our teachers their power back? Can we learn to protect our schools from greedy politicians? Can we fight for the right to learn as much as we fight and support our rights to throw a ball?
Malala Yousafzai says something that really is struck me, “I want to say to the world. You must try to get an education because it is very important. If the new generation is not given pens they will be given guns by the terrorists.”
How do we break deadly ideologies? How do we create a world where racism, class-ism, and sexism do not have any power? By teaching of the bigger world, by teaching history and science, and the ability to think for ourselves. By giving the power to be able to have both sides of the argument and being able to see them honestly.
Americans are compliant to their own educational downfall. There should be NO reason for such a large number of illiterate children in our nation when we have free schools. If we had to walk ten miles for the chance to learn numbers, would we love school more? If we had to sneak into school to avoid protesters and assassins, would we study harder? Would we stop spending thousands of dollars in college for the chance to party and get drunk, if we had the chance to bring in a little money to our family because we got to learn how to read?
Fight for your right to your free education. There are people out there dying for the chance to learn. Literally.
This summer has been a summer of learning how to trust God to fulfill His promises to me.
As I said previously in Letting God Guide, it was time to walk away from a job I had had for 6 years, as a custodian on campus. A job that I still know I could walk back to if I decided to chicken out on trusting God. A sure job in an economy that is not the best bet for finding another job. Not only was I walking away from it during summer (very hard to find a three month long job, because about the time you are trained for the new job it’s time to leave), but I’m walking away from that sure job during Fall as well.
I’m a student. I have to be focused on school work and all the hassle that comes with that. I am way to close to graduating to start messing that up now. So not only do I have to find a job for summer, but I have to find a job that is willing to work with a student whose schedule shifts every four or so months.
Also, on top of this, I along with a former roommate, set about finding an off campus apartment. This will be my first ‘true’ living experience that is not tied to home or school. (It is a family joke because I insist that campus living is NOT ‘home’- because if I can’t choose where I live or whom I live with it can’t be home). It is time to start making where I live home.
So, obviously a lot of things were up in the air. Any other year, I’d probably be freaking out over the fact that there was no set job to go to, that there was so much money needed and no way of getting it, but this year… I took a different approach.
Because of a calmness in my heart and soul about the idea of moving off of campus— which I think is directly linked to my willingness to let God guide me– I decided to keep that feeling when looking for work.
The first week I was home, I was not looking hard, because I had to get settled again (in other words figure out what box I packed what I needed). Monday morning of that first week, a church friend who’d had a heart attack asked if I’d be willing to chauffeur him for awhile. I agreed.
Two days later, my pastor mentioned another church friend (my prayer warrior actually) needing help with her ailing husband. Now, I have 12 years care-giving experience, so of course I jumped on that! Because of who it was, no matter where I had been- I would have come home to help her. But, because God urged me to come home for the summer, I was where I needed to be when I need to be there. I helped M.A. with her husband for two and a half weeks. P.A. passed away peacefully. In the week following his death, I was able to put my internship learning into action. I meet with the family nearly everyday until the funeral and helped them set up the memorial pamphlet. I also helped serve food to over 250 people who came out in the pouring rain to pay their respects to the A. family. It was wonderful to see.
So once again I was without a job.
My Mom though had to stay off of her foot- it is in a boot- so she couldn’t drive for at least three weeks. When I was free, I became her chauffeur, getting her to numerous doctor visits and other errands. Things she wouldn’t have been able to do if I wasn’t there.
Now, we’re on the back end of her restrictions with her foot, so I was suddenly offered another care-giving job by ANOTHER church member. (Remember, my church is small! Less than 50 people on a good day) They need someone to look in on their mom a few hours a day. So it’ll be more of a companion job than actual care-giving. While not a lot of hours, it’s more than I had. And this offer comes when I only have less than a month and half up here at home before school starts!
Also, this last week (2 days before the job offer) my roommate and I found a wonderful apartment. It is a slight stretch financially, but I am confidant that it will work- why? Because God lined things up for us. It is in a safe area, actually above our campus. Nicer, newer, and bigger, than the apartments we were previously hoping we could get into. It also is on a defunct Christian college campus, so the people we deal with are actually Christian. It was purely a God thing we even heard about it, because they aren’t advertising it and they are looking for a very certain type of person to move in. If we hadn’t ran into someone who had looked at it, we’d never have gone over there! We get an renovated apartment with two big bedrooms and two full size bathrooms, a brand new kitchen as well as a large living area and dining room. All for a reasonable amount.
How amazing is this God I follow?! He has continually shown me that His plans are so much bigger than mine are for myself. If I just allow Him to take the lead in my life, my struggles will lessen immensely!
Sure, there are still a lot of unknowns around the corner. But, I have a God who has proved Himself even when He never had too. I think I can take these next few steps in faith, because I know that He’ll catch me if I fall.
Promises of God:
“So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” ~~Proverbs 16:9
“The life of faith is a daily exploration of the constant and countless ways in which God’s grace and love are experienced” ( Eugene Peterson )