Rising YWA freshwoman Aina Marzia’s essay characterizing her perspective and thoughts on standing up to violence took top honors in the area Do the Write Thing competition to become one of two Ambassadors of Peace representing El Paso.
Aina tapped into her knowledge of her native Pakistan, the world’s 13th most dangerous country. She talks about being fortunate not to experience violence first hand but acknowledges the pain felt by Pakistani children and the suffering of her own family members back home.
“I hate to admit it, but this stigma on my background has changed the way people see me as a person,” she wrote. “Most will see a young girl…but some will see an alien, an immigrant, or possibly even a terrorist. These characteristics don’t define me, and never will, because violence is seen everywhere, no one should be defined by their background but by the people they choose to become.”
A committee comprised of UTEP professors, judges, lawyers, representatives from the District Attorney’s Office and counselors from across the El Paso area read and identified the top two ambassadors for this year to represent El Paso.
Aina is joined by Jamin Paz from Canutillo ISD as the city’s two ambassadors who beat out more than 8,000 other students’ essays.
“Ambassadors are selected based on their essays, making sure they include all three important sections in their essays—experiences with violence, what causes violence and their commitment to end violence in their homes, schools and or communities,” said UTEP professor Dr. Josefina V. Tinajero, director of the program in El Paso. “Reviewers look at the content, interest, completeness, power of the message in each essay and scored them. Aina Marzia wrote the best essay from more than 8,000 submitted this year.”
Aina structured her essay in a way to make her readers think.
“I want people to understand why violence has become a pandemic and how the little things we do matter,” she said. “We never realize the importance of something until it happens to us. When people read my essay, I want them feel as if they are obligated to do something about the issues we face.”
Aina’s essay touched on violence both in her home country and the horrific events in El Paso nearly a year ago on Aug. 3 at the Cielo Vista Walmart.
“My thoughts were inspired by many things but most importantly by my drive to make a difference,” she said. “I enjoy writing about world issues because I feel like I am impacting or hopefully changing my society. This topic however, helped me address both my birth country and the country that I live in because violence is seen everywhere just in different forms.”
She would ordinarily be honored in Washington, DC next week but the organization is trying to determine how to virtually recognize her and the other winners throughout the country.