Published On:28 July 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Jill Biden at Muslim Girls’ School

By Khushita Vasant

The second lady of the United States, Jill Biden, showed up at a Muslim girls’ school in Mumbai Thursday morning to praise their focus on education, urging them to draw inspiration from the courage of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban for her outreach on education.

“I know you just saw Malala’s remarkable speech in front of the UN. And wasn’t she so brave?” Ms. Biden said. “We all want the opportunity to pursue our dreams and be treated with respect, regardless of our gender. We want to be able to take care of our families… The thing that makes that all possible is education,” she added.

This is Ms. Biden’s maiden visit to India, where she finished up a four-day tour of India with her husband, Vice President Joe Biden. They left Thursday for Singapore after visiting New Delhi and Mumbai for a strategic visit with policymakers and business executives to discuss trade, regional security and maritime cooperation.

Their daughter, Ashley, accompanied Ms. Biden to the school. She and the Bidens’ son-in-law, Howard Krein, toured India with them.

At the Anjuman-I-Islam school on Thursday, Ms. Biden, an educator herself, teaching English at a community college, first stopped by a couple of classrooms, where she chatted with students, shaking hands with each one in the room of about 60.

She then proceeded to address a hall packed with about 400 students in eleventh and twelfth grades.

“I’m very lucky because I get to travel around the world with my husband, the vice president of the United States and we were very fortunate that my daughter and I could come on this trip to India,” Ms. Biden said in a speech.

She said one of her favorite things to do while travelling is to visit schools and meet young women.

“You know the world can be a tough place for young women, but you are doing exactly what needs to happen… you all are putting your education first,” Ms. Biden said.

The second lady spoke about Ms. Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani student targeted by the Taliban for her activism on education.

Quoting from Ms. Yousafzai’s speech on free compulsory education earlier this month at the United Nations, Ms. Biden said education is the only solution for a better world.

Ms. Yousafzai’s passion is ensuring women around the world have access to educational opportunities, just like yours, Ms. Biden said.

“As Malala said, ‘Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,’” Ms. Biden said.

“You know there is a tendency to think about how big the world is but as I travel around and as I hear speeches like Malala’s, you realize how small the world is and how similar we all are,” she said.

Zufishan Zafar, a 16-year old science student, was the emcee at the school function. Ms. Biden spontaneously gave Ms. Zafar a long hug on the dais, which drew thunderous applause from the students.

When Ms. Biden finished her speech, she stepped down to mingle with the students, drawing them, one by one, into her arms, as they stood up from their seats to greet her.

At that, a reporter whispered to a U.S. consulate press attaché, asking, “Do we also get hugs?” To which he said, “Of course not! I know you just want to ask her a question.”

(Courtesy: The Wall Street Journal)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on July 28, 2013. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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