Dear Malala,

Watching the news as a six year old may seem insignificant to most young kids, but for me, it was a window into another world. My dad and I would often watch reports about terrorism in the Middle East, and I’d ask him countless questions about life in this faraway place. He would tell me about terrorist groups, and how many kids didn’t go to school, have books, or even know how to read. This particular bit stirred something in me, as I couldn’t imagine a life without books, which were my favorite things in the world. Since then, I’ve been drawn to the issues of education and terrorism like a moth to light— I just can’t turn away. Your book I Am Malala gave me a new perspective on these same issues. It evoked many emotions, made me want to take action, and ultimately connected my world with people from all walks of life.

When you described your everyday life in Swat, and the relationships you had with those around you, I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback. I was surprised that a girl living a world away could be so like me. Like you, I am also the eldest child in my family. We both bicker with our siblings all the time, and the relationship you have with your dad is just like the one I have with mine. Many of my classmates think I too, am the bookish type, but I don’t deny it, as I have a thirst for knowledge, just like you. In some ways, reading I Am Malala was like living my own life, but beside all the girls at the Khushal school, and everyone in the Swat community. While all these similarities grabbed my attention, when you described your love for learning, my world was flipped on its head. It was then when I realized that we really don’t live a world away from each other. Instead, we live in the same world, talking about the same issues, and fighting for the same peace we all long to see someday. Even if we live apart, there is still an indestructible unity that ties everyone together when we join hands, and put our heads together to incite positive change.

While I was able to pick out many similarities between our lives, I couldn’t ignore the differences between them as well. For instance, I can’t imagine hearing the firing of machine guns, or feeling the rumble of bombings so close to my home. In these times, I found myself on the edge of my seat, holding a breath in anticipation as I read about the Taliban campaign, and the fear they instilled in people everywhere they went. When you recognized how Atal, being so young, had seen so much violence and terror from the war, my heart sank. I almost cried then, but I didn’t, because along with all the bad things that came with the Taliban, stronger, greater things emerged out of the shadows. The fortitude of those who refused to be silenced by oppression brought about new hope, and reading of how you played a role in this movement was most heartening.

If they were shot in the head and nearly killed, most people would probably just give up, or give in. I probably would’ve, but seeing how much determination you displayed, even after being attacked, left me awestruck. Reading about how you preserved, and continued to speak out against the Taliban made me see that even the biggest obstacles shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing your goals. It made me smile, in admiration and inspiration, knowing that someone was using her voice for good, and helping to make a difference for those who couldn’t find their own words. Seeing how a child could have such a huge impact on the world gave me the confidence, and the comfort, that there is always hope. Your courage helped me see that we cannot give up when times get tough, because if we do, we have lost all hope entirely. Instead, we must be brave, knowing that we’re fighting for what’s good and just.

Before reading I Am Malala, I was intrigued by the issues of education and terrorism, but I often turned a blind eye when it came down to the feelings and emotions under the surface. After finishing the book, I feel connected to all the oppressed and silenced, and long to help them, or just give them a hug. By writing of your own journey to find, and utilize your voice, you have inspired me, and many others to take action, and join the cause for peace. You showed me that anyone can make a difference, no matter how young, and that together, we can ignite a revolution, becoming powerful advocates for a cause much bigger than ourselves. On behalf of myself, and countless others, thank you, Malala Yousafzai, for standing up to hate and falsehood, and empowering the rest of mankind to follow your lead.



Audrey Wong

Letters About Literature Texas 2018 Winners page

Page last modified: March 22, 2018