When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.
– Malala Yousafzai
We are approaching our last week in beautiful Norway. The preceding weeks have been packed full of intense learning, studying and researching, sightseeing and exploring, coffee and frozen yogurt breaks, and late night conversations and laughter. Thinking about these past few weeks almost seems dream-like. I have felt so inspired by the people around me, with their enthusiasm in their studies and desire to spark change in the world, to truly make a difference. I think it is so easy to feel powerless in this big and sometimes daunting world. Turn on the news and it is easy to ask yourself, “How could Imake any difference?” Well, I think it is possible. I believe that as individuals, we have little power. However, when people come together, power increases, and it is possible to tackle injustice. I believe the actions people take in their own life and in their own small sphere of the world matter.
After visiting several museums in Oslo, one of them being the Nobel Peace Center, I have learned that working for peace and justice has no age limit, gender specification, or special formula. Rather, it requires passion, dedication, bravery, care, honesty, and an open heart and mind. The featured exhibit at the Nobel Peace Center was about Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She is an inspiration to many people and I found myself in awe of her courage and devotion to helping others at such a young age. She saw injustice and encountered it firsthand and instead of being silenced, she became stronger than her fear. I think everyone experiences fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of security and safety, fear of illness or death. It is definitely not easy to overcome these fears, but Malala is one example of how we can transform our fear and uncertainty into something that is bigger than us, into something that produces movement, change, and peace.
A big component of the Peace Scholars Seminar has been devoted to identity. There are many aspects that could compose a person’s identity: race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality, age, social class, etc. Sometimes these identities clash between peoples, and violence and conflict ensue. There are differences between people, and things that make us unique and individual. But even greater than this, is that we are all humans connected to one another. I agree with Desmond Tutu when he said, “True peace must be anchored in justice and an unwavering commitment to universal rights for all humans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin, or any other identity attribute.”
I have always thought of “identity” as something more than race or nationality. Throughout my life and especially in my college years, where self-discovery and “finding one’s self” is the expected outcome, I have been left with the question, “Who am I?” I have many different responses to this question. In fact, sometimes the answer may vary from day to day, or hour to hour. But over the course of my time in Norway, I have discovered even more answers to this big question, but I have also made amends with not completely knowing. I will continue on my path of curiosity and sometimes uncertainty. I will keep asking questions. I will be open to new experiences and new people. I will work hard to help others and I will not be silent in the face of injustice.