She’s young, bright, and ambitious. She shows up for class on time. She completes her homework. She reads books during her spare time. She’s ready to graduate and take on the world.
This description matches the majority of students I know – including these two girls standing here. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about someone who is every bit like these two Rohingya girls, except for one small difference. She’s famous.
The reason for her fame? She’s educated.
As a Rohingya girl, being educated is somewhat of an anomaly. But it shouldn’t be. That shows just how truly great the need is to educate girls in the Rohingya community.
She shouldn’t be famous.
Sadly, the fact that her story is an anomaly unveils the sad truth that education is not often the expectation nor is it the reality for many girls around the world.
In other communities, she would be considered “normal” as the ambitious, hard-working student she is. In fact, she matches the description of these two Rohingya girls, who match the description of “normal.”
The difference? They are in America and she is in Bangladesh.
All three girls grew up in an environment where education opportunities were not handed out. The difference is that these two sisters made it to America, where education is available and plentiful.
The Rohingya girl in Bangladesh has quite an inspiring story, but it shouldn’t be the reason why she is famous. Her story of pursuing school at a young age, finishing high school, and continuing to university should be considered normal.
Education for girls should always be considered normal. But this is not the reality in many communities.
How do we change education from being an exception to being an expectation? How do we normalize these stories of educated girls in the Rohingya community?
This takes a lot of action and advocacy, but it is far more difficult as an outsider of the community.
We need girls like these two sisters — those who have been given the gift of education — to advocate for this. Their success alone as educated Rohingya girls makes a far larger impact in their community than I ever could.
They are the ones who can fight for the normalization of education in their community, showing girls that pursuing your passion is really possible. They can show girls that education is – and should always be – considered normal.