Storytelling is at the heart of everything we do at Girl Rising. From our feature film to our passionate supporters, we believe that sharing a good story can change the world.
Ana Nioradze is a Caucasus University Graduate and currently studying International Health Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, USA. She is also one of Girl Rising’s biggest supporters and it is our pleasure to share her story here.
Everything started long ago, when a little girl, from a little country, had big dreams. As the girl grew up, her dreams became bigger and bigger. She didn’t have a plan or know where life would take her, but there were two things she knew for certain. First, dreams DO come true, and second, education is the key. When I first saw the film Girl Rising, I felt a strong desire to share the stories from the movie with all my friends and family. I was motivated to speak up for girls who themselves stand for their rights, rights to education, freedom, love, and respect. I knew that I wanted to contribute somehow. And then I heard Senna’s story.
My journey started at the Open Society Foundation conference, where I gave a speech about Women in Leadership and included Senna’s story as one of my inspirations. Delegates were fascinated by this courageous girl. At the end of the presentation, I mentioned that Senna would be attending the Women in the World 2014 Summit, and I was creating a poster for her, a poster full of messages from all over the world, from people of different countries, races, ages and religion. All the delegates signed the poster. There were words of admiration, inspiration, motivation, and love. The highlight of the poster was, “Senna you are not alone.” People were telling her how brave she is and that she should never give up. Senna’s story inspired not only women, but also men, and especially girls who fight for education. Students from Brandeis University and the Heller school signed the poster as well; one student wrote that she was also struggling to get an education and encouraged Senna to never give up. The poster was ready; to me it was perfect. All the emotions coming from the words were so sincere and motivational that I knew that my mission was to deliver all these messages to Senna.
Then, that very special day came. With the help of Justin Reeves and the Girl Rising team, I had an appointment with Senna. I was sitting near the fountain in front of the Koch Theatre waiting for her. Suddenly, I noticed a woman and little girl sitting next to me, watching the fountain. The mother was telling her daughter the story of a princess, and the girl was playing with the sparkles of the fountain. As I watched them, I thought about Senna, who had spent her childhood in the terrible conditions of a mining town, and who never had a chance to watch a beautiful fountain. “Life is unfair”, I thought. After several minutes, I met Senna. Her eyes were full of wonder and interest when she saw the poster. I tried to read a couple of the messages to her; she was happy and I was happy watching her. I realized that she had inspired a lot of people from different parts of the world, and now, after her reading of these messages, we were inspiring her. This was one of the best days of my life. Senna performed at the Women in the World 2014 Summit and read the poem she had written, dedicated to her father. “My dad is my hero too. Be the kind of girl your father always wanted you to be.” This was my message for Senna on the poster. When Senna mentioned that her father named her after warrior princess I remembered my father, who also raised me to be a courageous girl, always chasing her dreams. All this time I was thinking about how important parents are in our life and how they can really shape our future. Senna’s father raised her with the courage and spirit of a warrior, making her the girl she is now. As Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father, said in his TED talk, “Don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings, and that’s all.” To me Senna is already an empowered woman, ready to make a change and chase her dreams, because she has courage. I strongly believe that a girl with an education can be transformed into an empowered woman only when she gains courage!
I want to tell all the girls in the world that yes, the world is unfair. We all are born with unequal opportunities. Some of us are raised watching beautiful fountains, and some of us have to fight for even our basic rights. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you watch, the only thing that matters is what you see. The world is full of opportunities. One girl with courage is a revolution. If Senna did it, you will do it too. If she could, you can too. Stand up, rise and shine, be the girl you always wanted to be. Defend your dignity, fight for your rights, be a real troublemaker. I am still growing up, and I still don’t know where life will take me but, as time passes, I am becoming more and more sure of the two things I mentioned above. Dreams DO come true, and education is the key.
If you would like to know more about the Open Society Conference where Ana presented recently, click here for more information.