Today I am enjoying watching some videos on a great website- TED. It is a platform for many talks about lots of subjects including science, business and global issues.
I have just watched a playlist on 'The Importance of Educating Girls.' One talk by Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Malala (for more about her see my 'Biography' section.) One talk by Kakenya Ntaiya, a Maasi lady from Kenya who had to bargain with her father for an education. The price she paid was agreeing to undergo the ceremony of female genital mutilation. One talk by Shabana Bahij-Rasikh, an Afghan girl who went to school in secret while the country was ruled by the Taliban, risking her life every day. One talk by Leymeh Gbowee, a Nobel Prize laureate who helped girls in her native Liberia and beyond get an education.
Leymeh Gbowee says that wherever she goes she sees intelligent girls, waiting for their greatness to be unlocked. It made me think about my own life and education. I didn't particularly like school, at times I hated it, although it was the social aspect rather than the education that bothered me. But I didn't complain too much about going, because I always knew deep down that school would 'unlock my greatness.'
Many children are not like me, and do not like school, and do everything they can to get out of it. Others are not like me, because they never got a chance to go to school. Still other children will risk their health, their lives, and will risk their community disowning them for a chance at an education. Because, as Shabana Bahij-Rasikh says: 'They can take your homes, your family, they can take everything from you. But they can never take from you what is in your mind.'
I was just reading the blog of my friend Elaine
She is planning on writing a book and for the content she asked her followers a question, and I answered:
''Are you consciously living a life that will become a legacy for those who follow you? If yes, what will your legacy be? If no, would you be willing to share why you are not?''
My answer would be yes, but I am only just beginning to. My ideas for my future are that I want to do something that other people can follow. It puts me in mind of a saying -
''The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character''
(This quote is often attributed to Buddha but it's not actually a Buddhist quote!)
So if I can change the way one person thinks about an issue, in some small way, it changes the world.
That's what I want my legacy to be.
I have been wanting to make this website for so long, I am incredibly happy to be finally doing it!
I thought I should tell you all a bit about myself so you aren't wondering who this strange girl is who keeps writing about vaginas and interviewing people about their lives.
My name is Amy Lou, I am from Swindon, England. I have had a lifelong interest in history and so I studied Egyptology and Classics at Swansea University (I believe this interest came from my great grandmother, who used to tell me I look like Nefertiti and that the Romans used to roll around in stinging nettles when they conquered England because it was so cold).
My studies took me to Egypt a couple of times (see my Places section!) And to Peru, which was the first of my volunteering experiences. I worked for 2 months for Projects Abroad in the middle of nowhere in the Andes, looking after a self-sustainable farm, doing some work for the community- like putting fluoride on the children's teeth and setting up chicks in the schools for the children to look after and sell their eggs. But mostly the work was about the multitudes of Inca ruins on the mountains behind the farm - cleaning them up ready for future generations to have the resources to study them.
My love of travel began there. I went home and got several part time museum jobs in Swindon, to save my money up to travel again (and I learned to salsa dance in the mean time!) So off I went to Europe for 5 months to visit my friends I had met in Peru, and make many new friends besides through couchsurfing.org. I went to Luxor, Egypt for a month to volunteer at a children's home called Sunshine (see my Causes section!).
When I finally got home after 6 months of travel I had no idea what to do next, so on a travel jobs website I came across the travel company Contiki. I applied for the job of Tour Manager, and after interviews, assignments and training (taking 6 months in total!) I finally was headed out on my first European tour. 50 people aged 18-35 on a coach for 3 weeks, and only me to look after them, tell them about the places we go and organise every aspect of the trip.
I was teacher, mother, best friend, nurse, DJ, shoulder to cry on, and everything in between as the situation dictated. And I still am- 4 years later and I am still a Contiki Tour Manager during the summer.
In winter I am traveller, explorer, friend to those I meet. And recently I have become a feminist. a believer in human rights, and friend to those I haven't yet met. How did that happen I hear you ask? Read my first article in the 'Reading' section of the website - 'Vagina by Naomi Wolf' and you will know how.
Thanks for reading!