BALI Graduate 2014 Speech.
From the first year at my school in Uzbekistan, I wanted to give a valedictorian speech. Yes… I wanted to inspire people around me but it did not happen. My dream was to give this speech to people that are close to me who can understand my life path. I realized that everything good in its season. That time was not a perfect time. This summer was THE perfect time for it. I am introducing you my speech that I gave on Bella Abzug Leadership Program 2014. If you pay a little bit attention, you can understand what I am talking about and how many of my dreams came true. Thank you BALI.
My name is Anastasiya and I am a Russian Korean immigrant from Uzbekistan, in simple words I became a New American Woman with strong desire to change the world and be a part of society. I was a successful young woman with a perfect career in leadership and journalism, I was living in a country where my family and I had a bright future, I was a woman who knew what she wanted from this life. Not a bright future forced us to moved away from inequality and limited freedom of speech to the United States, the country where my dreams became sand, where language became my enemy, where I lost my personality as a woman and young professional.
Depression started to destroy my soul, my mind and my heart. Despite the fact that I graduated Cum Laude from the CUNY College and was on Dean’s List, I couldn’t find myself as a person. One night almost giving up, I asked someone who was looking at me from the sky “Please, give me a sign.” The next day, I opened my resume to correct my phone number and after looking at my achievements I found out that I was a leader. I decided to Google “Leadership in New York City.” And I found BALI. Because I was out of their age range requirement, and deadline almost passed, I emailed to ask if I could attend. I thought it was my remedy. I thought it was my achievement but recently I realized that the biggest achievement is meeting you, motivated, bright, positive thinking, socially responsible young women. And today I can confidently say that after 5 years, the longest years in my life, of trying finding myself, I found my soul and mind here, at BALI.
During our training we learned how to listen each other, how to think together, and how to share our fears, dreams and opinions. And today one of my 25 dreams came true which is a public speech in English. These 12 days were the most incredible and powerful days for all of us. I learned a lot from you for example what potluck is, where different schools located, what’s the difference between boy scouts and girl scouts, how fried plantain tastes like, how to follow your heart (Mary), how not to fear put red lipstick and cut your hair as well as dance and cry in front of everybody… My personal achievement was a medal of debater that I got yesterday. I was scared not because of debates or arguments or facts, I was scared because of language. What if opponents will not understand me or I couldn’t find a right word. And yesterday I left my fears behind this medal. I love these 12 days. We celebrated 94th birthday of Claire Reed, we agreed that “We are not pretty, we are persons”, we learned that we have to dream and dream BIG, we learned a lot about fears and failures. We learned that feminism is not about hating men, it is about loving women. Feminism is not about taking the men’s rights away, it is about to respecting women’s.
Yesterday we were strangers, today we are friends, and tomorrow we will be supporters and sponsors to each other. And today is our last day. Tomorrow we will come back to our schools, churches, and communities to spread and share this experience with others. I strongly believe that tomorrow we will help each other to reach our goals, to build a justify society, to support each other to fight with our fears and help each other to move on if we fail. I want to be in contact with you because mentors do not have an age range, and you became my mentors and inspiration.
PS. I would like to thank everybody for the such a great program. Because of you (girls, coaches, interns and Liz), I am very confident now. Million of kisses to you.