By Katie Nelson
Contra Costa Times.
Malala. The name alone inspires empowerment, perseverance and wisdom. Malala Yousafzai, just weeks shy of her 18th birthday, evokes courage, strength in the face of terror, and more.
And as she walked out Friday night onto the stage at San Jose State University’s Event Center, the teenager, glancing out at the cheering audience, was above all else humble. Clad in a yellow and light blue outfit with a floral headscarf, the first thing out of the grinning teen’s mouth: “Thank you.”
In a nearly hourlong discussion with famed San Jose author Khaled Hosseini, known for his books “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” Malala showed no stage fright and never stumbled over her words — qualities often abundantly clear in the average teenager.
But Malala is not average. She is extraordinary.
“If I wouldn’t have chosen to speak, then I would have had to continue my whole life in a situation of terrorism,” the Nobel Peace Prize recipient said. “If you want to change society, if you want to see change, you must step forward to bring change.”
“And I’m standing here and seeing people standing with me on this campaign of education … for every girl around the world.”
In the interview with Hosseini, Malala covered a wide range of topics surrounding her unyielding devotion to educating women as well as for peace between nations. She advocated for allowing girls to attend school to read and write, but to also be individuals, free from the constraints of societal pressures to be submissive to men.
She passionately pushed for understanding and peace, because as she explained, the world cannot change for the better if cultures stay stuck on misperceptions of right and wrong based on ideologies promoted by small but influential groups in power.