Here it is…are you ready? Our own Horizons intern Maryam was invited to the White House for International Women’s Day! We are SO proud of her! Lily, our other senior intern, interviewed Maryam about this great honor.
Maryam was selected to attend this amazing event through a recommendation. Before coming to Miss Hall’s, Maryam was involved in the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. When a US Agency for International Development (US AID) member had asked a former director of the program to nominate students, Maryam’s name was given. She was one of three students chosen to represent women from their home countries. Maryam was representing Afghanistan, a college student living in Wisconsin represented Kenya, and a student at American University represented Ethiopia.
The events that occurred to celebrate International Women’s Day took place in the White House. The first event was the Women of Courage ceremony, during which awards were given. During this ceremony Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, the Prime Minster of Australia Julia Gilard and the President of Kyrgyzstan, Roza Otunbayeva spoke. The next event was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The speaker for this event was Michelle Obama again. During this celebration, Michelle Obama spoke about how women have been empowered over these 100 years and the growth that has occurred in terms global recognition of women’s rights.
Throughout the course of the day Maryam had the chance to meet many influential and inspiring people. These included the Afghan ambassador of the United States, women from ABC news (one of whom wanted Maryam to advise her over the summer when will be in Afghanistan!), the founder of the American University for Women in Bangladesh, a gold medalist from the Olympics, many founders of organizations for women, the Afghan women who received the woman of courage award, Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, and many great people from US AID. For Maryam, the most exciting part of the trip was when she met with Hillary Clinton and when she received a hug from Michelle Obama.
Although getting a hug from the First Lady is pretty amazing, Maryam took much more than that away from this experience. Maryam says that the phenomenon of being in the room where powerful women were speaking so passionately about how women can change the world one step at a time made a big impact on her. One quote from the day that really stuck in her mind was that “courage is contagious”. Maryam felt that the courage of these women was being transferred from the stage to the women in the audience. As she was leaving the event, a representative from US AID, who had been her guide throughout the day, told her that it was her turn to make a difference in the world. She was selected to attend this even because someone had faith that she will be a future leader. Knowing Maryam, I have no doubt that this will be the case.
See the First Lady speak on International Women’s Day here.