(3/1/2016) I don’t understand any Burmese beyond “hello” and “thank you”, but I could feel the power of Khet Mar’s words as she spoke to the girls and young women celebrating the Burmese launch of I Am Malala. As my friend translated Khet Mar’s speech for me, she was almost moved to tears by the strength and confidence she was instilling in the listeners. Khet Mar talked of how she started with very little in life but found joy in reading and learning. She told the girls that they have the power and strength to do great things and that education is the beginning of that path, and that we are all Malala.
A journalist, poet, and novelist, Khet Mar was an exiled write-in-residence in City of Asylum from 2009-2012. She now lives in the Washington D.C. area and works for Radio Free Asia. We are indeed honored to have such an exemplary women translate I Am Malala into her native tongue. I’ve already been told by my Burmese friends who have read some of the book that the language used is truly beautiful.
Two young girls approached me before the festivities began. They were so curious where I was from, how old I was, and how many children I had. They had ridden on a bus for twelve hours from Mandalay to attend the event and were so excited to be there. I asked them about their studies, and Sonia said her favorite subjects are science and geography, and Daisy loves her English classes. It was such a sweet and memorable interaction.
While at the book launch, the girls rotated through four different fun activities. At one table they created the book cover for their very own memoir. Khet Mar lead the poetry corner and encouraged the girls to write a short poem, some of which were read aloud later to the entire group. Girls in the performance activity did improvisational acting and laughed and giggled as they did movement and dance exercises. In the story-telling circle girls were encouraged to share personal stories of their lives. Thank you to Girl Determined for organizing this event and providing inspirational activities for these young women. They are the future of this country.