Emily, USA

Dear World,

My name is Emily and I am 20 years old, living in the United States of America. I am currently a student at a women’s college in New York City and a fast paced and inspiring community surrounds me every day. Going to a women’s college I see the value of women in a different way now than I did before. I had always been a self-proclaimed feminist but didn’t understand the nuances within the social movement nor the importance of intersectionality in understanding the world. I believe that most people in the world are similar to who I used to be—someone who was unaware of the world I lived in but with the desire to improve it in some way.

In order to achieve peace and equality in the world I think it is ESSENTIAL that people start learning about different identities and the struggles people face due to their identities that may not be obvious. It is important for men to try to understand what it is like to be a woman and to recognize our struggles. It is important for the youth to be educated and exposed to a diverse range of topics and people. It is important for men, just like any dominant group to recognize their privilege and to support those who do not have the same amount of privilege.

I have always been the type of person to go out and help those, who for one reason or another may not be able to help themselves, whether that be related to immigration, the judicial system or simply within a social setting. Our world is at a crucial point in history in which danger is not only taking shape in the form of war, but can occur anytime and anywhere, and can change the lives of a person and their loved ones forever.

People should not have to live in fear. 
People should not have to hide their identities. All people should be treated equally.

This will be hard to achieve and it won’t happen overnight, but in order to change our reality we need to change the social structures and mentalities of people in society to be more accepting and encourage them to stand up for others.

We can do this as women, as men, as children, as immigrants, as gay, as black, as white, as Jewish, as Muslim, as every person with every unique identity. Together we can make a difference in our world and together we can take steps toward equality and peace.

Thank you,

Emily Goldstein-McGowan

Age, 20 USA

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Farah, Libya

Dear World,

My name is Farah and I am 23 years old. I live in a continent where war is constantly being driven by race, religion, poverty, and injustice.

I live in a country where conflict has been and still is a constant and on-going struggle, where individuals and families have been kidnapped, assassinated, displaced and exiled. When day-to-day basic human rights resources become scarce privileges and the path to social stability becomes constricted by rivaling governments and political situation.

As I write this letter, there is a war happening around 460 km from where I live, and another one in the eastern part of the country. Since the civil war broke out again in 2014, the “quality of life” which has already been low is now becoming non-existent, the ability to keep a positive attitude towards life and peace is diminishing and the hope for truce and reconciliation between cities, tribes and people has become overshadowed by the sounds of gun-fire, pride and greed.

Despite all the challenges we go through, there are aspiring young educated leaders in various fields who dream for a brighter future and work towards peace in Libya and the world. There are motivated young women who have broken social barriers and who will not submit to community pressures, in order to build a safer and a more prosperous life for their daughters and the next generations.

Sometimes, conflict is not always a bad thing; it could act as a starting-point for peace and global change. It may temporarily create a hostile environment with devastating effects, but it also builds a stronger generation with better awareness of their rights as human beings and a broader perception of acceptance and compassion.

Sincerely,

Farah Al-Atrash Tripoli, Libya

Hannah, The Netherlands

Dear World,

What are we doing? There is so much hatred and anger in the world we live in. Unfortunately, there is no quick way to change this. Oppression, violence, and hatred are engraved in humanity. In order to create peace, we need to be able to forgive. Decades of injustice can only be stopped if we learn to forgive. Creating peace is not a one-man or one-woman job. It requires us all to work together, even with the people that have hurt us the most. Of course, this is easy for me to say and I realize that, but it is the only way to truly move forward.

We also need to be more thoughtful towards each other. It is very easy to form an opinion when you only see your own perspective. Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. How would you feel if you were treated differently than others? You might realize that not everything is black or white. There is a lot more grey area in this world.

The way we were raised, what we see on TV, what we read online and so many other factors influence the way we look at different social groups. In different parts of the world different social groups are shown in a bad light. Our initial reaction to certain people can be explained by what we were taught to see, but we cannot use that to excuse the way we act. We all can control how we act. There are bad Black people and bad White people. There are bad Muslims, bad Christians, bad Jews, bad atheists and so on. However, that does not mean that the person in front of you is a bad person. Treat others how you would like to be treated. A little kindness goes a long way.

I aspire to forgive, to be thoughtful and not to let my surroundings cloud my judgment. I know that I was put on this world to help others. That is my purpose and I have known it since I was a little girl. I strive to do at least one good deed every day to make someone else happy.

What do you want your role to be in this world? What is your purpose? Think about and act on it, because it is our responsibility to create the world we want to live in.

Sincerely yours,

Hannah van Egmond,

Age 18, The Netherlands

Walaa, Egypt

walaa-badr

Dear World,

Our ancestors gave us the fundamental principle of freedom that set in motion today’s global system of government. This world must be safe for all of us or no one will truly be safe. We have ignored what happens in the rest of the world and have accepted time after time to live in a global political inferno, ignited over and over by a series of dictators and global terrorist organizations. We see what happen in Syria; we can see the innocence of children killed every day, but we still stand and watch. We see humans like us, wanting the right to live in peace, but we still refuse to give them their rights. We have duties to help the children of our world. I don’t accept living in a world where there is no justice, no rights and no peace: in a world that lost its humanity. Never forget that Syria, Somalia, and other countries in the Middle East are suffering while we are standing here. All of us are responsible. Never forget your duties to your universal brothers.

Sincerely,

Walaa Ahmed Badr

Age 18, Egypt

Naila, Algeria

m-k-naila

Dear World,

I want to introduce you to a 9-year-old little girl. She was beautiful, pure and sensitive. She lived in a peaceful society with her parents. This girl had a normal dream, in which one day she grows up to become a very, very successful young woman. She wanted to make her daddy proud, being his only girl. She always had the dream of being one of the best girls out there representing her society. This girl is me.

Hello there, my name is Naila, I am a 21-year-old young woman from Algeria. You should have guessed my problem by now. Well, let me tell you! Racism, discrimination and hatred.

I am a Muslim woman who once was an innocent child. I didn’t choose to be a Muslim, but if I had the choice, I would defiantly choose to be one. I wear the head scarf and I choose to cover my body. My parents did not require me to wear it, it was my choice and I am absolutely happy about it.

Dear world, I beg you to listen to my story. When people judge me for what I wear, for choosing to cover myself, it tears my heart. I am fed up with people calling me a terrorist.

Dear world, I am a normal girl. Like everyone out there, I laugh, I make jokes, I paint my nails, wear high heels, I watch movies, listen to music, I dance, and I even cook. I do everything a normal American girl would do, except I choose to cover my body in front of men, and practice my religion peacefully.

What hurts the most is every time I travel outside my country, I have to deal with people’s insults. They look at me with disgust in their judging eyes, they treat me like trash, they make jokes behind my back, and most importantly they call me and my family and all the entire Muslim population TERRORISTS.

Dear world, how can you judge a whole religion by a small group of extremists? How can you judge the whole Arab Muslim world by a few people who are insane?

I have to tell you that ISIS is not killing only the non-Muslims; ISIS is murdering, kidnapping and raping Muslim people too. Have you ever thought about how many Muslim children are being murdered or tortured to death every day by these people? Think about how many women are being raped and killed every single day in Syria, Palestine and Yemen and other Muslim countries. Think about the fear and terror they face every day. Think about the peaceful Muslim families, how they have to say goodbye to their loved ones in fear of never seeing them again.

I have a vision that someday, I’ll wake up to hear on that all countries are having a huge party, celebrating a world free from all cruelty, hatred, ISIS, murder, rape, violence, and corruption. Do you think this is impossible to achieve?

I have a vision that all the countries put their weapons down. I have a vision of a unified world. I have a vision of a peaceful beautiful world, with all its breathtaking natural sights and different colors. I have a great vision in a world in which all races, colors, religions, languages and hair colors live together. I have a vision in which people are not judged by the choices they make about their religion or their body. I have a vision of a world in which no matter what you are, no matter what you wear, or who you are, you NEVER have to fear their judging glares.

Finally, whoever is reading this peaceful letter; please know that you are an amazing, beautiful soul. Never let their words sadden you. Instead, smile and continue working hard to prove them wrong. Be successful and reach your dreams just like the great person you are.

Stay always happy.

Sincerely,

M.K.Naila

Age 20, Algeria

Yutian Lin, Canada

Dear World,

I am from a beautiful country,

A country that knows only peace.

Where conflicts will not steal our family,

No need to pray for war to cease.

 

People have asked if I love my nation,

I may have hesitated before I answered.

If asked if I love people and relations,

Would hesitation come again? Never.

 

People are what the world is in fact, made of,

Each and every one of us makes a difference.

As a member you should take responsibility, to

Change the world with your own actions.

Every moment could be spent with less hate, and more love.

I am Yutian, a 17-year-old from Canada. I am from a place where people are known to be kind, polite and say sorry a bit too often. I am from a nation that is known to be peaceful and rarely involved in conflicts. As an individual I have the freedom to pursue any degree and profession, never having to worry about my next meal or any physical danger. This is the world that I live in, but I find it a pity that not everyone could have this.

Every single person is different, but that difference is normal. At least, I would not want to live in a world of 7.4 billion people who are just like me. With every single person trying to take control, who are not creative enough to compose a single piece of music and with no sports in existence. This would be my worst nightmare. We complement each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses, so are not those people who are different from us even more precious than the ones who are like us?

No matter your gender, culture, religion, ethnicity, age, we are all humans living in the same world. I am not going to say “throw your biases of people out the window,” but try to give some time to get to know that new neighbour, colleague, classmate before you make your judgments. Since this is not a single way street, you also have to open your door for others to get to know you.

We are all tiny on this globe, but if every single one of us makes a bit of an effort to respect one another, I believe we will have a world that is even more beautiful than it already is.

Sincerely,

Yutian Lin

Age 17, Canada

Ines, Morocco/Belgium

ines-benhomaid

Dear world,

Have you ever been told that you are not capable of achieving your dreams? Or did someone ever tell you that you should be doing something else because they believe you are not worth the time or effort?

My name is Ines. I’m a 20-year-old Moroccan who was born and raised in Belgium. As a young student, I learned that hard work is necessary in order to reach our goals. My education has been difficult because of my dyslexia. I always thought I was the dumb kid and that my future wasn’t as bright as other future leaders. I thank my family and the people who told me that everything is possible. Once I started believing in myself, I set a goal and I promised that I would reach it no matter what. I learned that with the right network of people and the right motivation and mindset you could do anything. Along the way I thought if I can reach my goals, I could help others as well. There is no better way for me to help others then to volunteer with refugees and kids with disabilities.

After a long period of disbelief from others, I found my voice and my passion for success. My hard work paid off and I will be moving across the world for an internship. Dubai has been my dream destination since my first year of high school. The world is so big, so why should I stay in the same place? Facing challenges teaches you how to work harder, which is a valuable skill. I started with negative spirit but now I have confidence in my abilities. When people tell you, “No, you can’t do that because you are not smart, fast or able,” you will find that those are the people who will one day come to you for advice.

I want you to remember that you are intelligent, beautiful and loved! Even when no one supports you, you can learn to support yourself and achieve in life. So make sure you know how to motivate yourself. Believe that you will obtain what you want. Don’t wish it, live it and work hard for it because if it worked for me it will work for all of you.

Kind regards,

Ines Benhomaid

Madison, USA

madison

Dear World,

Every night when I go to bed, I listen to the traffic outside of my window. I can hear the subway train passing by, the cop cars blaring their sirens, and the splash of cars running through puddles. What I don’t hear is the sounds of gunfire, of bombs going off, of airplanes or helicopters in the sky. I’m lucky enough to live in the United States where things seem relatively peaceful, at least on my college campus. However, this is not true for most of the world around me. It isn’t true for so many of the girls and women who seem so much like me.

War is a scary, violent, nasty thing. It tears us apart and separates us from our own humanity. How can we, as a society, as a generation, continue to condone such acts of violence? How can we sit idly by as cities around us crumble and fall? As our generation of vibrant, smart, intelligent human beings comes into the workforce around the world, it is vitally important that we step up and step out against war and violence, and instead create peace.

Peace is found on a playground where kids of all ages laugh and play together. Peace is found on an airplane ride where men of different cultures discuss how they were raised and how that has made them who they are today. Peace is found in a government official’s office when diverse voices are praised, not put down. Peace is found in a university campus where every gender, sexual orientation, religion, and racial minority is welcomed and celebrated.

When we create peace in our day-to-day environments, it has profound impacts across our lives. The little girl playing on the swings learns that it is okay to be different. The university students understand that diversity in opinions and upbringings strengthens our conversations, instead of bringing them down. Our government officials and business leaders use diversity to their advantage. When we as a society learn and understand each other, that is when true peace will be created.

War begins because we cannot handle the diversity of opinions and cultures in our neighbors. We don’t like how the “other” worships their god or puts down ours. There’s an us and there’s a them. How do we make it a we?

We start those tough conversations. We seek to understand, not judge. We welcome other voices, stories, people into our lives. That is how we open ourselves up to peace. That is how we end war forever.

I don’t ever want to wake up to a phone call saying that my brother was killed in combat. I don’t want any more Pulse shootings like in Orlando, Florida. I don’t want to be afraid to speak my opinion because you might not like what I say.

Let’s create safe environments for discussion and diversity. Let’s create communities that celebrate differences instead of shoving them to the side. We will all be stronger for it.

Peace be with you,

Madison

Age 20, United States of America

 

Zahraa, Lebanon

zahraa-abualloul

Dear World,

My name is Zahraa Abu Alloul and I’m 22 years old. Telling people where I am from has always been a problem for me, because I’ve never tasted the true meaning of the word “country.” I’m originally from a beautiful country called Lebanon but I was born and raised in a rich gulf country called Kuwait. Lebanon is my nation and the place that I belong to. Whenever I say that I’m Lebanese the first thing that pops up to people’s mind is the prestigious country that has gorgeous girls! And whenever they hear me saying I live in Kuwait directly they will start to think about my financial situation and my classy lifestyle! My family chose to leave Lebanon due to the unstable political situation and hard living circumstances. I grew up in Kuwait and I kept visiting Lebanon every summer, holidays and every time I get back home everything feels different. I grew up to find that I’m not the only one who is feeling lost between two places. I always ask myself why isn’t the world just one country? Why do we have borders? Why are we fighting for lands? Why do we have nationalities? These questions led me to find that the word “country” has become a place where wars, violence, poverty, illiteracy, inequality and injustice exist. These questions also led me to figure out that what ever happens in one country directly affects the world that we are living in.

Sometimes I start thinking about how the past was much better than now. Before, we never read about the refugee crisis and we never heard about discrimination between people based on their nationalities, colors, background, ethnicity or religion. Before, we never faced issues like bombing attacks or physiological problems! Why all these things are happening nowadays? As a human I think we should move a step forward to overcome all these problems that our world is facing. People need to strengthen their personalities and be change makers. A change maker for the change they want to see in this world.

As a female, the first change I demand is empowering the women in our societies. I strongly believe that one woman can change the world. I want to see women equal to men. I want to see successful women trying their best to acquire knowledge and continue to leadership positions. I want to see every child have access to a quality education. I want to see peace instead of blood and health care instead of diseases. I want to see the world as a green place instead of a polluted place. I want people to return back pure humans with honesty, modesty and innocence. I want people to stop spending most of their time behind a screen for a cause called Technology. We are losing the ability to live a truly human life. So for all the governments, the rulers who are hearing me, for all the humans I will say, we were born to live happy and the key of happiness is in our hands.

I’m Zahraa Abu Alloul. I have hope, and I promise to make the world a better place.

Zainab, Afghanistan

Dear world,

This is Zainab Azizi from Afghanistan. I am 19 years old. I am writing this to you on behalf of many, many others who think the same like me but don’t have the opportunity to write it to you. 
I live in a place where even living at home has become hard just because in every moment there is the possibility of an explosion and war. I live in a country where there is war among many tribes. It is a place where many treasures, mines and beautiful rivers can be found but none of them are left in peace. Dear world, I know how injured and torn apart you are. I know that you are crying deep down inside like a baby that knows nothing. It is crystal clear how all those things that you needed like politics, religion and science could bring you to these days.

Yes, you needed science, technology and religion for all those of the creatures living on you. It was essential for them to have faith and live with belief in religion, science or technology. However, regardless of all these essential fields, for you—my world—their politics are blind. Many do not understand the beauty and strength of these fields. However, their ideas do not provide co-existence and are destroying us all and you. For instance, the wars in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and my own country leave many of us injured, dead and in parts.

I hear about your cries, injuries, and dead bodies everyday and night. I hear about your wishes and all those traumas that living creatures are passing on you. I heartily understand your traumas, both spiritual and physical. Especially, after the attack that happened in front of me on my campus, American University of Afghanistan, which left many, many of us injured and dead. I think more and more about you, dear friend! I think about you because of the knowledge, open mindedness and education that some people are lacking. It is the acceptance, respect and beautiful side of each other that we should seek.

I want you to know this is no fault of yours. It is okay to have different nations, cultures, seas, rivers, mountains and religions. Although in some parts they are bringing you war, I believe they also show your real beauty. All these differences expose that you have the strength of the universe.

But above all we see and listen about you everyday and hear about all these wounds, dead bodies and wars. I wish you peace and prosperity. We, the new generation, will lead you to better days and nights in peace. You are our hope as we are yours.

This little injured soul will never give up on bringing you the better days that you deserve. My world, I am for you and you are for me, together we will shine beautifully.

Yours,

Zainab Azizi

Afghanistan