After eating some bagels served by Whole Foods, we shuffled our way into the theater and found ourselves sitting amongst the “crazy ones” as the MC reminded us while jumping around on stage. So, I thought "Who are the crazy ones?" Luckily my new notebook answered that for me.
“They are the ones who follow their hearts, the ones who dare to believe dreams are real, the ones who make the impossible, possible. They go where no one has gone before- not without fear but despite fear.”
From our seats we saw Nile Rodgers, a multiple Grammy Award winning musician, our host for the event. He came up on stage and introduced the first speaker of the day, Tim Doner.
Tim will be starting his freshman year at Harvard next year to study linguistics, which is a given because he can speak over 20 different languages. These include, Hebrew, Pashto, Ojibwe, Swahili, Japanese etc. Tim expressed to us that he strives to learn about foreign history and culture through language. He goes around to different neighborhoods in New York City to speak to people in different languages. He not only does this to perfect his linguistic skills but also to learn more about culture from speaking to people in their native tongue. He quoted Nelson Mandela, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. Tim finished by saying, “you can translate words easily, but you can't quite change meaning”.
The next speaker, Marah Zahalka, is a member of the Speed Sistersfrom Jenin, Palestine. Even under tight military control and facing an intense political situation at home, she “refused to be a prisoner”. She asked herself “what was I made to do? What drives me?” with that and her fierce determination, Marah pursued her dreams and is now the “Fastest Woman in Palestine”. Marah also spoke to us that when she arrived to the U.S., many people asked her how oppressed she was, generalizing countries of the middle east. Marah responded to these remarks by saying, “women face opposition in every country”. As a feminist in the U.S., I really found this interesting because from my experience, I do find that many people generalize countries in the middle east as extremely oppressive and fail to recognize the separate countries. Agreeing with Marah that women face opposition everywhere, I would like to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “no one is free until we are all free”.
Another speaker who really stood out to me was 14 year old Kajmere Houchins. Kajmere is a three-time cancer survivor, founder of The Powercave, board of the Seattle Young People Project, and president of Stop Bullying World Wide. The Powercave is a website aimed to empower teens to take action in their own lives and in their communities. “In November 2013, Kajmere changed Washington State law to allow students to participate in anti-bullying policy making”. After I left the event, I still heard her words “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” ringing in my head. She explained that by losing fear and taking risks she found opportunities. She finished her speech by asking us, and now I ask you, “What are you afraid of?”