Malala Yousafzai surprised students at South High School

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Malala Yousafzai at Girl Summit 2014. (UK Department for International Development/Flickr)

Malala Yousafzai at Girl Summit 2014. (UK Department for International Development/Flickr)

During what was already an emotional assembly, Malala Yousafzai some students at a diverse Denver high school to tears.

Denver Post reporter Noelle Phillips was at South High School yesterday afternoon for the event. Yousafzai, the 19-year-old Nobel laureate who survived being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on her way to school, was fulfilling her promise to visit the school after learning about it during a visit to Denver last year.

The school has students from more than 60 countries, and last night, those of them who are refugees were sharing their stories, Phillips reports. Yousafzai’s surprise visit was the last stop on her latest global tour to promote girls’ education.

“It was at that point I had seen the worse things I can see in my life and the terrorists had done all they could do to stop me, and they were not successful,” she said, recalling the attack on her. “I should continue my campaign for education.”

When the assembly ended, she and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, met with 15 students to talk and answer questions. They talked about her struggles with opposition in her own community, her talks with world leaders, how the students can make a difference and even the anxieties of applying to colleges.

“When people start criticizing you, you should know you’re having an impact because your voice is reaching them,” Yousafzai told the group. “Take it as a positive. Be open to criticisms. If it is something good, then try to think about it. But if it is something about you and they will not accept you for no reason, it is not good to waste your time on those comments. Keep focused on your work and what you want to do.”

Jump over to Phillips’ story in the Post, where there’s much more, including the refugee students’ own incredible stories.

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