On Friday, Oct. 21, South High School students filled the auditorium to hear from three of their refugee peers. The audience of more than 1,500 people was silent as they heard story after story about the trials and tribulations that their fellow students had endured. As students and educators listened to these stories, their emotions were felt. Then, a refugee from outside the South High School family took the stage, it was Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Shot by the Taliban in 2012, Malala is the youngest person ever to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. She made a surprise visit to South High School with her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, to share her story.
“South High School is rich in culture,” said Malala, which she credited as the reason why she chose the school as the last stop on her world tour.
South HS serves many families new to the U.S. through it’s a Newcomer Center, offering programs designed to help refugees and families who have come to America with limited or interrupted education in their respective home countries. More than 40 percent of students at South HS speak more than one language and represent over 70 different countries from around the world.
Recently arriving in Denver from Dubai, Malala radiantly took the stage and thanked students for their enthusiasm and bravery to share their stories. Malala also shared her mission, passion and experiences with attendees, and told how her father have established the Malala Fund with the goal of amplifying girls’ voices and providing them with a platform to connect each other. Watch the video on Facebook via9News here.
After the presentation concluded, Malala and her father spoke with nearly 20 South HS students. Students had the opportunity to ask questions like, “What is it like to be the youngest in the room of world leaders?”
“As I first began my journey, I thought I needed to know everything about everything,” answered Malala. “In time I realized all you need to know is what you stand for, and all you need to do is have passion.”
When asked why he supported his daughter’s rights, Malala’s face lit up as her father answered.
“No father has the right to clip the wings off his daughter,” said Yousafzai.
As the questions wrapped up, it was very apparent Malala and Denver Public Schools students have a lot more in common than they may have originally thought. Many shared that they are eager to continue their education and make a difference in the world.