The Hardest Decision of Her Life

By Jaida, Class of 2025

Teacher’s Note: Below is the continuation of Refugee by Alan Gratz after Josef’s mother, Rachel Landua, realized “one of her children would go free, and  one of her children would go into the camps” (Refugee, p .291).

Josef’s mother stared at the Nazi then at her kids then back to the Nazi officer.

“What,” she finally muttered.

“You hard us, which one,” the Nazi demanded. “or neither go free.”

“Why not me? Why can’t they both go free?” Josef’s mother cried. “I’d never want it for anyone of my children.”

“Then, well choose,” the Nazi laughed.

At that moment Ruthie cried, “I don’t want to die.”

“Shhh,” Josef whispered trying to comfort Ruthie while reaching out to her but the Nazi held them apart. “You won’t die Ruthie.”

The Nazi nodded at one another. “We’ll take the younger one,” as the Nazi reached out to her.

“No!,” Josef pleaded, breaking from the Nazi’s grip and hopping in front before the Nazi grabbed Ruthie. “Take me instead; leave them alone.”

“Josef,” his mother and Ruthie cried.

“Don’t do this we need you. I need you,” Ruthie sobbed.

“I have to it’s my fault dad jumped overboard. Everything is my fault. WE would be in Cuba if it wasn’t for me. It’s because I told dad the Nazis were coming after slapping him in the face, so he got scared when they trashed our cabin and jumped overboard, it’s my fault. Now we are here instead of in Cuba. Everything is my fault.”

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Summer Break

Thanks for reading our stories and work this semester! The blog will now be on summer hiatus. Check back in September to read more.

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Teen Activism Alive and Well

By Trinity, Class of 2024

“Let us pick up our books and our pens…. They are our most powerful weapons.” Proclaimed Malala Yousafzai, a valiant teen activist for female rights to education. Malala, in 2012 faced the dismaying adversity of being shot in the head at the young age of 15 by the Taliban because of her passion for girls’ education on her way to school. Incredibly, she survived; Malala, afterwards gained many followers and advocates that make the distraught associated with this atrocity able to be handled easier. Malala is now extremely successful, owning a non-profit campaign titled “Malala Fund”, wrote a book titled “I Am Malala.”, and is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

All teen activists such as Malala have a source of inspiration that may originate from experience, or the action of sympathizing for one’s losses. Malala, at the age of 12 loss her basic human right to education. Her school was shut down and she, unlike her fellow peers gained a sense of discomfort from this event. This is where Malala’s source of inspiration originated. She, first questioned her potential as a female child, then she realized that she is human, along with all other people on Earth. She refused to look at herself as subhuman any longer; Malala knew she had to contribute to society, no matter how colossal the risk may be. During these strident years of her life, at around the age of 11 or 12, Malala created a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdo supplying the orchestrators with immense detail associating with her life during the Taliban occupation of Swat. The following summer, a journalist Adam B. Ellick published a New York Times documentary describing her life posing as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. This was only the beginning of a miraculous journey hosted by Malala Yousafzai filled with many adversities, yet commodious contribution and success.

Malala was not only inspired by the events that occurred around her, but the people in her life played a significant role in the development of her character and overall passion. Specifically, her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, an English teacher surrounding Malala with the familiarity of education around the world and the facets that follow. In fact, her family ran a chain of schools in the region in which she was born into. As Malala’s understanding of the gift of education grew, her sense of appreciation for her father’s words and immense advocacy grew immensely. Malala states that she was greatly inspired by her father’s humanitarian way of expressing and completing work; Malala, idolizing her father’s practices, attempts to apply his techniques to her own ethic and ways of going about pursuing her passion. Malala also mentions that she was influenced by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a passionate lawyer and politician, responsible for the founding of Pakistan, and Benazir Bhutto, a Pakistani politician who served as a Prime Minister of Pakistan. She was the first woman to lead a democratic government in a society dominated by Muslims.

Although this is only the beginning of her journey, Malala became a symbol, symbolizing the risk that comes with being an advocate. Not many are valiant enough to be a nonconformist in a sense that they stand apart from society and show pride in doing such. This comes with pride and comfort in knowing that there is appreciation somewhere and all it must do is be discovered. This served as education to the posterity, informing them on the risks of and rewards for being stubbornly persistent in pursuing a passion. Malala’s story, especially the beginning inspires many. It delivers the message that despite the environment that surrounds one, he/she is still able to be resilient and persevere, showing diligence through conflict and despair. The only limiting factor is one’s passion behind a subject, displayed through Malala’s empowering words and actions contributed towards improving society. Malala coherently delivers the struggle of gender discrimination by asking questions to get an audience to apply these intensive circumstances to their current state; overall, this strategy allows an audience to make a situation applicable, therefore making educated decisions and judgement. In general, teen activists are delivering the concept of creativity and applying this to their work to make their advocates and followers intrigued, as well to attempt make the opposing side see through another, undiscovered perspective, as portrayed by Malala.

Through triumphs and tribulations, Malala stayed true to the principals of optimism, integrity, and diligence. A statement from Malala’s book, a Nobel Peace prize winning document titled “I Am Malala.” Reads, “Women were banned from laughing out loud or wearing nail polish, and they were beaten or jailed for walking without a male family member. I shuddered when he told me such things and thanked God that I lived in Pakistan, where a girl was free to go to school.” This emphasizes Malala’s immense amount of passion and her appreciation for the little things in life, despite how rigorous and strident her current conditions are. Malala is also the type of character in which she looks to even the most unique, or unrealistic resources for the bettering of the community and happiness of others. This is best portrayed by another quote written in her book (“I Am Malala”.), “At night I would pray, God, please give me Sanju’s pencil. I won’t tell anyone. Just leave it in my cupboard. I will use it to make everyone happy.”

In conclusion, through tribulations and adversity, Malala Yousafzai has been stubbornly persistent in ensuring females with the right to education; despite the discrimination, Malala refuses to lose her diligence and pride in fighting for what she views as a basic human right, or education. Malala’s story continues to inspire incalculable amounts of people. The description portrayed by Malala informs and exposes society to the value of their voice and their value as a person.


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