Ashley, Belgium

Dear world

You. Are. NOT. Easy! You see, I’m the oldest at home. I have four siblings and my brother is in puberty-phase. You don’t want to mess with that, believe me… I also have three precious little sisters who mean the world to me. It is amazing to see them grow, and see how they handle everything. They are actually living their life at the moment.

But wait… reality check.

Once they get older and understand this messed up society, they won’t be living their life anymore.

I have enough on my plate but I’m already worried for them. I’m scared that they will get bullied like I was bullied because I had a different skin tone (I’m Asian). Or that they’ll ever think they are not good enough for this world because of standards. Thigh gaps?! WHY? The only gaps teenagers should be worrying about are the gaps between one food-stand and another.

I was that “typical” teenage girl who wanted to have a fairytale wedding and a big family but the thought of raising little kids, who still have their whole life ahead of them makes me cringe. There is just no certainty for them anymore, not even for me with all these attacks going on. Global warming is helping either. But the main thing for me: racism.

This has been a big part of my life. I was bullied for a long time in elementary school. I always blamed my parents. I kept asking myself, “Why did they start a life here?” I hated the fact that I felt unwanted and that I stood out from the group. After a while the racism stopped… or it just didn’t bother me like it used to. I still get the stereotypical jokes like “Hey, can I get some babi pangang” and there are days I would just ignore it. Some days I would be like “Sure, in your face?” I prefer these days to be honest. It will always hurt hearing something like that, even when friends make jokes, because I did try. I followed the rules, I never got in trouble, I speak the language, I go to school and I work. I’m perfectly integrated. But I’m still anxious to meet new people. Not that I’m not social but I worry if they would accept me. That is my main concern.

I would never want my sisters or brother to experience this. I don’t know a lot, but if there is one thing I know, it is that life can be short. We should enjoy every minute of it. Life without racism, how would that be? Nobody knows. I know I can’t ask for a world without it but I can ask you to think twice before you speak, even when it is meant as a joke. Don’t do this for the random Asian girl who is writing this but do it for the world.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Tep, 19 Belgium

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Toungade, Chad

touna

Dear world,

My name is Toungade. I live in Chad but now I study law in France. I’m 21 years old. My heart is crying every day when I watch the news. My heart dies when I see children crying.

Children of Syria, I wish my letter could make something change for you! Oh people of world, look for those children. If they leave they will die, and if they stay they will die. There is no choice, no chance, no life. It’s just painful because it’s a silent death. They don’t deserve it because they didn’t choose this life! They ask just for a normal childhood, full of good memories not bad dreams that follow them in real life!! Which world is that??! If I stood in front of them I couldn’t look at them, I would be full of shame because I watched them die every day without saying anything! We can’t bring them their parents but at least let us bring them peace, bring them happiness, bring them their childhood.

Sincerely, Toungade

Montserrat, Spain

Dear World,

My name is Montse, I’m 17 years old and I’m from Spain. I think that the world has so many problems, but the biggest problems take place in our minds.

The Syria’s war wouldn’t exist if some people from the government stopped bombarding the population. Those people who are involved in the war, do you have children or dear relatives? Probably yes, and probably you don’t want them to be hurt. All Syrians want to protect their families and they just try to survive to the threat of their own country.

The gender violence wouldn’t exist, if men and women both recognized the other as humans with the same rights and opportunities. When I speak with some old people, they tell me that it is impossible to stop the gender violence, especially in some countries where women suffer a high inequality. Is it really too complicated for people to recognize we need freedom and the equality? I continue believing that a solution exists. Please men, see that you can’t subjugate women! And Women, don’t be afraid! Defends your rights together!

Poverty wouldn’t exist if people were empathetic. If you have more money than your neighbour, you could help them. Happiness isn’t the result of having money but money is necessary to survive. While some people die of malnutrition, other people die of overfeeding. Women and men, are you aware of the bad distribution of wealth?

Racism wouldn’t exist, if people were not so superficial and again if people would be empathetic. Please be aware of that people who leave their country to move to another are trying to survive. If you have children but you can’t offer them food in your country, would not you do the same?

I am lucky to live in a country that is not at war. I have food, clothes, and I can study in the university. There are some organizations that fight against gender violence, although they aren’t enough.

I have a good life, but is really fair that some people can’t afford to access to all these opportunities just because they were born in another country? No, clearly no.

Dear world, I can’t change you all by myself but I can change some injustices around me. My mind is aware of that. What about yours? Is your mind ready to help those around you?

If all people answer yes, this would be a perfect world. If some people say yes, that means world is evolving and I’m so proud of you world.

Thank you,

Montserrat Sacie, Spain

Age: Almost 18

Greta, USA

Dear World,

Peace. What a beautiful, meaningful word said only in one syllable. Peace. It is such a powerful word; so powerful that people have sacrificed or risked their own life in the name of peace. There are a million meanings of peace, varying from one month with no war, all the way to simply existing with no fear of danger. Some find peace in exercise, others in reading, and many others in religion or culture. While religion and culture normally unite many peacefully, it also tears others apart, causing meaningless, unwarranted strife. The root of this is mixture of a lack of exposure to religions & cultures and lack of will to learn about them, leading to extremism mislabeled as a certain religion or culture.

While there is little we as a society can do about religious extremism or terrorism, we can provide resources and platforms for our peers to learn more about our own cultures and religions. This simple act of bridging two different lifestyles seems like a small deed, but it can go a long way. At the end of the day, education is a small step to peace. Education will supply civilians more information about the truth, which in turn will eventually make its way to government institutions preaching and practicing peace on an international scale.

Yes, at some point, education can only do so much, but its impacts are long lasting. Education opens minds to new schools of thought (no pun intended) and harnesses peoples’ abilities to ultimately better the world. Education helps people with rational thinking and as mentioned earlier, provides exposure to a wide range of opinions and styles of living. Most importantly, education allows people to mold their own mind and allows people to filter what they hear in media and in conversation through their education. It truly empowers people to think for themselves. At the end of the day, World, all I can tell you is that education plays a huge role in your future and fate, and in bringing about change and peace.

Sincerely,

Greta Johnson

USA, 
Age 17

Nour, Algeria

Dear world,

My name is Nour, I am 18 years old, from Algeria and I am a girl who rejected her reality and who is aiming for a better future. At some point in my life I realized that I am different, that I don’t think the same way my female friends think. There is something bigger than us happening outside; something bigger than my house, bigger than my village, bigger than our traditions, bigger than all of us, something called sexism. Yes, we are in 2017 and this word still exists.

Last summer, I won a scholarship and currently I am studying at the American university of Cairo, and for me this is the biggest accomplishment of my life so far. I am getting a better education and a better lifestyle and I am so happy that I have done this on my own. I was the one who chose to be here. I rejected the path set before me and I came here hoping that one day my name will inspire people the same way I was inspired by others. I came here looking for a new beginning and I made myself a promise that I will be the voice for those voiceless people I know in my country. And this is the reason why I wanted to write this letter. Although I only knew about it six hours ago, I grabbed a pen so rapidly and I started writing because it is my first real opportunity to fulfill my promise.

One of the voiceless people I knew back in Algeria was Khadija, a simple quiet girl I studied with in high school. She was one of the most brilliant students in our school, everyone expected her to end up as a famous lawyer, a great doctor or even a teacher. But the truth is nothing of that is going to happen. Once we finished high school, she was forced to get into a textile workshop because her father didn’t allow her to go the university because she is a girl. Yes that’s right, it’s like being a girl is an insult or a crime or a reason for depriving a person of a higher education.

One more thing I want to talk about is marriage. Marriage is supposed to be one of the greatest things that humans do. It should be based on nothing but love, but in my country, marriage is viewed by some people as a contract, in which the groom point out a long list of conditions that the bride will have to agree to. The bride might not be allowed to work once married or will have to live in her husband’s parent’s house and serve them for the rest of her life.

From my point of view, the problem is not in Khadija’s father or in the Algerian grooms but it’s in Khadija herself. It’s in her mother, it’s in the bride herself, and it’s in all women who accept this treatment just because they are women.

Are you one to sit back quietly? You may be hurting yourself and others. Speak up and show the people what you are made of. If you don’t think that you are worth it, do it for the others women around the world, women that are going through the same suffering you went or you are still going through. Believe me they are worth it. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute, for all those being crushed. Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up for those who have no voice. Repeat after me… I am a woman, I am smart, I have opinions, I have feelings, I care, I make a difference, I matter, I am a woman and I am proud of who I am.

Sincerely,

Nour

Noor, Bahrain

Dear world,

Isn’t peace a wonderful blessing in life? Some of us are lucky to live peacefully, but some of us live in fights and wars. Have you ever asked yourself if you can be the reason behind peace or war? Or what can you do towards the conflicts that you dislike?

My name is Noor Al-Awadi, a positive 19-year-old young lady from the Kingdom of Bahrain that wishes to see peace in the whole world.

Why don’t we begin with ourselves? Let’s be honest… on the one hand, how often do we backbite people? How many rumors do we spread approximately? Is everything we share on social media 100% true? How often do we spy on others lives trying to catch their flaws?

On the other hand, how often do we forgive others? How many excuses do we make for our brothers/sisters and friends? Do we have good intentions for the people we don’t know? Do we wish more than our happiness to others?

Misunderstanding leads to conflicts, fights, or wars. Most people have communication problems and do not know how to deliver their messages in the right way. At a point they stop explaining and think the information they have given was enough. Sometimes this leads to huge misunderstandings that can end up with fights or even wars.

The second problem is spreading rumors either on social media or in reality. For instance, many people share broadcasts without checking their sources, which spreads to more than a 100 people in a minute!

The third problem is not respecting others religions. Every religion has their own believes, behaviors and traditions, but not every person respects that. When people believe in their religion but are not respected for it, hate starts growing.

The fourth main issue is backbiting. Stop lighting wars between friends or lovers. Stop the hate and stop hurting others. Try to reduce backbiting and create more peace.

Instead, let us spread love and peace. Let us love our brothers and sisters the same way we love ourselves. Stop the jealousy and envy and always remember that what is meant to be for you will come in the right time. Let us wish the people who we know or don’t know more happiness, better health, better education, and better lives. Every person is good by nature, even if they do bad things. Therefore, it is never too late to change our bad habits by having the courage to admit our mistakes and correct them. Have faith, be positive, and good things will happen. Let’s put our hands together for a bright future.

In the end, one hand does not clap, but together we can make the world a better place.

Thank you,

Noor Al-Awadi

Age 19, BH