A week ago, on the ocasion of 2017 United Nations Day, I delivered a personal appeal to all the Messengers of Peace and the people of hope who just like myself source their actions in a fundamental belief that education is a solution to the problems we are constantly being challenged by as global citizens.

October 24 - The United Nations Day

October 24 – The United Nations Day

 

 

The amount of support and love in the messages I recived in return, many of which came from the people who were excluded from school communities or opportunities to recieive education, has shown me that what we really need to do is DO. We need to get invloved in changing this world actively. We need to not just talk, but act upon our words and declarations. We need to be seen, to speak up, to be brave.

And it doesn’t mean we must not fear. Just don’t let the fear stop us.

 Apart from the supportive messages, I received many that were filled with hatred and discouragement. And those were the ones that stuck with me the most. Because it was the bad and harmful words that grounded me in my mission to do everything I can in making sure that I leave this world more peaceful than the one I found upon my arrival. It was those words that found me even more focused on my goals and more determined to make them happen. Because a hope for world in which people are not judged because of their religion, harmed because of their race, or surpressed for political views is not an utopy. It is an option. A hope for world where people are free to marry who they love, where children are in schools and their parrents can live together no matter their nationality, where women are treated equally as men and paid the same for the same job, where politicians act upon the will of citizens and words of constitution, where journalists are able to do their job, and where money cannot buy one’s freedom is not idealistic. It is possible. But there is work that needs to be done to make it true. Those are not the democratic values or republican values, the left, or the right values. Those are the values each one of us holds within. Because they are the human rights. 

I agreed to publish my Personal Stand on UN in hope that the words and values that stay behind them, give you strenght and inspiration, and courage to be a light in the darkness and to kindle the flame of hope in the hearts of all those you meet on your way. I am with you.

October 24, 2017

“Today my voice is shaky and higher than usual. Today fingers don’t hit the right keys when I write the post. Today I speak louder than I use to and I blush when I see the people around do the same.

Today is October 24, 2017. Exactly 72 years ago with the ratification of a founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being.

Since 1945 the United Nations has been bringing hope and aid to people across the continents, fulfilling a mission to make the world a one of peace, respect, and a home to all its people.

Through years of devotion and effortless work, hundreds of people inspired by the challenge ahead of them have gathered on more than a thousand of meetings, conferences of the General Assembly and International Summits all over the world, advocating for the excercise of human rights and peacefully fighting for justice across the communities.

35 UN Specialized Agencies, affliated programmes, and funds, all with their own membership, leadership and bugget have affected the lives of bilions of people in the world, fighting against violence and sexual abuse, combating wars and poverty, advocating for the rights of women and girls, addressing the climate change, giving shelter and a new life to the refugees, to the orphaned children and victims of terror and the displacement. Those people have been providing water and food where there was famine, curing and preventing diseases such as polio, malaria, hepathises, or HIV/AIDS. They have been supporting minorites and the victims of natural disasters, standing side by side with those who feared to live. Who feared to define as who they are.

The people of the UN and those who continue to support the United Nations’ mission are the Messengers of Peace and everyday heroes for so many of us. Today, on this very special anniversary, they hold hands even stronger and invite every single person to participate, and be the part of this powerful movement.

The change the UN has brought into the world shows us that everything seems impossible until its done. That peace starts with a smile, and that to be free is not merely to chase off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enchances the freedom of others.

What has been done through those 72 years however, is not enough. And despite the tremendous effect those humanitarian actions sparked and the milions of beings they saved, the UN missions are a surface of what can be done if your voice is not a part of them.

The values UN stands for, are your values – the values of human. This is your United Nations. Today, more than anytime before, as the UN, and the people of this world – we need your voice. We need YOU to be our voice, not an echo. We need your knowledge, your kindness, and your will to be seen, to stand up, and to speak up of what you believe is true.

We need you to educate others so that their voices, ideas, and rights are seen and respected. So that younger generations see and follow an example of what it means to be human.

I believe that education of our children is an answer to the complexity of struggles that we, global citizens, face: the problems of climate change, military conflicts, displacement, poverty. Those are undermined in a lack of understanding between communities. In lack of respect. In weakness of the discussion and unequal participation at the table. How can we communicate our problems if over 20% of us can’t read or write? How can we take care of our societies if 12 million children in Africa have never gone to school or studied a map of the world? How can we be just if, according to UNHCR, thousands of women in rural areas across the globe are not invited into politics? How can we expect peace if our children rise up as refugees or soldiers in military service?

As a student, international volunteer, and journalist, for the past few years I have been travelling across continents to document the lives of my peers and visit students particularly in Africa. Now during my stay in Jordan – to advocate fot he rights of women in the Middle East and to let the voice of refugee kids be heard. I have seen violation in all its forms: violation of gender equality, religious freedom, political stability, peace – to name just a few. All of those local acts of injustice had one thing in common – they were the acts of people who lacked knowledge in order to solve problems of their communities in alternative ways, in non-violent ways.

Violence and violation of human rights come from lack of education for too many.           But lack of education comes as violence and violation of human rights for all.

I am from Poland, and to me it is right that my peers in Kenya decide about their education. It is right that girls in Syria are free to make choices about their bodies and marriage just as I do. It is right that Muslim females in Jordan and Saudi Arabia are given the same right to vote or drive a car, as their male counterparts. Those conditions too often are taken as privileges. Too often we forget they are rights. Human rights. Rights of all.

If there is one thing to be done on their behalf it is a global initiative for equality in education.

It is time we realize that the crisis of education globally is our crisis. That the responsibility to support oppressed peoples is our responsibility. That the voice for change is our voice. The words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon one can use to change the world,” are not only encouraging. They are binding. Those are the words that define every single action I take up in my live. And I encourage you to evaluate them as well.

Many have proposed solutions to the problems I mentioned above. Many have criticized the goal of equality in education as undermining the global economy and competition. Even more have fallen into a trap of doubt with the cost-benefit analysis and its results. But very few have spoken of the attitude that shall guide ideas to success.

In 2013, Malala Yousafzai, in her powerful address at the UN Conference for Education in New York, said: “Compassion is the legacy of education. It is a solution to all our problems”. And she was right.

Respect for varying voices and cultures and compassion for others are the solutions, just as hatred towards people whose opinions are not our own, towards races not our own, or religion we don’t share, is ignorance, a source of all the bad and violent.

The good news is that we have a choice to make. This decision is ours – to break the ignorance, and build bridges that join, instead of dividing.

If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining each other as who we are, we will find that we all are human. As humans we all have a right to speak up, to be seen, to rise up. This is especially why I am so so proud of King’s Academy students today. In our protest we showed that silence can be as powerful as words and that together we can shape the future of our school, were each and all strive to cherish one another through a discussion, where all voices are heard and where all opinions are equal.

While celebrating the anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations, I want to thank all those Messengers of Peace for everything they have done for humanity. And for all they will do in years to come. Without your example I wouldn’t have a courage to share these words.

At the same time I want to emphasize that those words are a public and personal stand of mine, for which I take a responsibility, at the same time holding full rights to its content. Any use or editing of this text without my permission is considered plagiarism and falls under the rule of law.

What I give my full permission for, however, is for all of you who red and feel compelled – to share. To stand up, to speak up, and to be seen. If you happen to be a journalist, a student, a mother of three or a taxi driver – stand up for what is right to you.

This is your opportunity to educate the world.”

 

Alicja Borzyszkowska

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