UNFINISHED 2018 — Curiosity and Courage — by Esther Halal

Curiosity and courage: the strongest words ever put together. The curiosity to seek what is unknown and the strength to dive into it. Everyday we have milliards of such opportunities but we hold back, leaving a string of unfinished ventures in the world. What if someone goes out of their way to: turn back time on the opportunities you let pass, encouraging you to revisit your curiosities so you finally get the chance to explore them but this time with an entire community by your side. Someone that helps you finish your stories, that is how I see UNFINISHED Festival.

Everybody has a story, but somehow we find ourselves inspired by particular ones; the ones we feel deeply for. One day, you will have looked back and realised how your story has inspired and shaped the lives of others, that is why it is vital to complete yours. Until then, you look forward and surround yourself by people who kindle and awaken you. Personally, I am at the point in my life were women like Ayesha Gulalai Wazir, speaker at UNFINISHED this fall are on my vision board. I always ask myself what kind of woman I want to be, and the answer to that is a woman that fights and stays true to her core values and principles. Gulalai represents that.

From a young age, Gulalai spoke up publicly about human rights, empowerment and, moreover, prepared herself accordingly by becoming a member of the Tribal Union of Journalists and later on a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and then she fought on despite the troubles and tribulations she faced. One vision led to thorough preparation which lifted her to the status of first-ever female Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan. I believe that people don’t rise from the dust but rather from worked soil; Gulalai shows us how heavily, hard work, weighs in.

When it comes to one’s values, there is power in seeing things as black or white; it gives you the strength to fight on against the status quo. An example of this would be when Gulalai left the Pakistan Tehreeke-e-Insaf (PTI) party because it failed to guarantee respect and dignity to women, leading to the formation of her own party Tehreek-e-Insaf Gulalai(PTIG), despite the verbal public harassment she faced in the process. In one interview she said that “It is my integrity that matters to me the most, I cannot compromise when it comes to my honour and dignity.” I admire her for that. She is a leader that I would follow because she knows what she stands for and this clarity allows her to aim far and high.

Her passion started early on. Certain hardships and circumstances such as living in a taliban controlled tribe where women’s rights and education were not an option, boils you down to the essence, from which, an individual with a well-defined passion emerges. Nevertheless, passion comes in different stages, the ultimate one is when you would risk your life for your cause: Wang Yu, Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King and others have this in common. We live all our lives trying to find something to die for; others find their reason sooner.

Nevertheless, there is a lesson to be taken out of this, I am not telling anyone to throw themselves in the face of danger in order to realise what they truly want to fight for, all I am saying is that there is something divine about exposing yourself to the world, to all its ruthlessness, conflict, poverty and natural beauty. I know that if I wish to find what I want to die for I must roam the world, risk as much as I can and walk in other people’s shoes as much as possible.

Participating in UNFINISHED will not only give me the chance to vocalise my admiration towards Gulalai and other valuable speakers but to also meet people and expand on the opportunities offered by the event itself. As both a medical student and the Europe Regional Representative of the Student Network Organization (SNO), I wish to create new collaborations and eventually, partnerships with student ambassadors and delegates, university representatives and various student-oriented and community-centered initiatives. The Student Network Organization aims to create new and qualitative opportunities for students at a global level; thus, in order for students around the world to rise together, broadening our community is vital. I am looking forward to continuing my story at UNFINISHED and I am sure that so do you.

This material was written by Esther Halal, a current Medical Student at the University of Bucharest.

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