The Go Big Read event I attended was a UW-Madison students speaking out event inspired by the book I am Malala. I went to Vilas Hall last week on Wednesday, December 3, 2014. It was a forum led by students taking an honors Comm-A class. At the beginning of the event, the professor of the students taking the Comm-A class explained Malala’s story. He began by explaining how there is a lot of injustice done in the Middle East, and although it is dangerous for people to speak out against certain powerful groups in these areas, people like Malala and her father do anyway. He gave a quick summary of her story, including how she revealed herself to the Taliban and was then shot in the head. After surviving and working to rebuild her strength, she came into contact with a girl who had to use tally marks to do business because she didn’t know how to count. At that moment, Malala realized what she wanted her mission to be, to educate the non-educated girls. Then, the professor asked us to think of events that have happened in our lives that have led us to a new perspective and inspired us to find the war that we’re going to fight. He then informed us that students taking his class would present their prepared speeches and would tell their stories and what causes they wanted to promote.
The first speaker spoke about water scarcity and wanted to call attention to how we take water for granted here in the United States. He explained how water scarcity is caused by growth, overpopulation, misuse, and pollution. He realized the importance of this issue when traveling in Costa Rica where people were very conscious of how much water they use. The second speaker was a boy who wanted to discuss the effects of anti-bullying programs. He became interested in this topic after finding out about the suicide of Tyler Clemency, a boy with a lot of potential who had committed suicide after a video of him having relations with another boy was released. There was another speaker that wanted to promote the railroad system and another speaker that wanted to teach people how to avoid sleep deprivation.
There were a few more speakers, but my favorite speaker was the fifth speaker who talked about the “R word”. She wants to diminish discrimination against developmental disorders, and she believes a good place to start is by making people aware of how offensive throwing around the word “retarded” can be. She feels mental retardation is not a subject to be taken lightly and that people’s careless and offensive use of this word should not be taken lightly either. She talks about how most people use the word ignorantly, claiming to mean no harm. However, after it’s been used, she believes it’s too late and the damage has already been done. A label once used to respectfully describe people with developmental disorders has evolved into a dehumanizing word. I loved this speech because I have noticed with my own friends and peers that many people lack knowledge of how much the word hurts. It seems that the word can catch on pretty easily and that it spreads through a chain reaction of ignorance.
Overall I thought this was a really cool event that put a creative twist on a regular book discussion.
This is a photo of the boy that talked about sleep deprivation.