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A 14-year-old girl was shot in the head while on a school bus.

She had been particularly targeted.  Three years before, she had voiced her desire to grow up to be a doctor, to go to school to learn to heal others.  That statement was seen as an affront by the Taliban who view her as a focal point for Western critiques and called her dreams “obscene.”  Her name is Malala Yousafzai.

Erin and I do have a couple of blog posts all ready to go – some light, anecdotal pieces about writing and language – but when I logged into my NYT account to read today’s headlines, I was humbled by the reminder of the power of words, of the need for the education of all citizens, and of the bravery of others in the face of totalitarian beliefs.

Since first expressing her want of education, Malala had taken part in documentaries and written blogs to document her experiences and point of view.  Her father’s school was closed down by the Taliban as it had been open to girls as well as boys, and the family fled Swat for Abbottabad and after Mingora while the Pakistani army battled the Taliban and finally had them retreat to Afghanistan out of North-West Pakistan.  Malala’s work for children’s rights inspired others and led to her winning a couple of peace prizes and changing her aspirations from medicine to politics.

It is hard right now to know what the future holds for Malala; while she survived the bullets to the head and neck, one is lodged close to her brain.

As two years of campaigning, primaries, ads, and debates will soon culminate in the November elections, I wish that I had the opportunity to vote for the candidate that I support, that I could “speak” with my ballot.  Not yet a full citizen, I can only watch from the sidelines for now.  But I am thankful that it is not fear that is keeping me silent on November 6th.

Taliban Gun Down Girl

– Eleni Anastasiou, 10th October 2012