Third Place Winner: “Women are Women the World Over,” by Tait Rutherford
12th grade, Fort Collins High School, Colorado
I first heard about Writing for Peace over the intercom as I walked down the crowded school hallway toward the lunch room for a much-needed break from school work. I was looking forward to relaxing a bit with my friends as I ate. But the announcement intrigued me, because I fancied myself a potential writer, or a journalist, a person who found words to provide the best medium to convey emotions and information to the world. I wondered if the Writing for Peace club would help me to become a better writer, or help me to meet other people who enjoyed writing. So, after a quick mental struggle, I chose to forgo the daily opportunity of chatting and eating with friends, and entered the computer lab to join Writing for Peace. This decision sparked my encounter with Margaret Stockover and the eventual writing of her story. I hope this experience foreshadows the nature of my future career. As a student at Columbia University next year, I will study to become a journalist. Working abroad for the New York Times constitutes the core of my professional goals. My life holds much more opportunity to continue learning and writing about the world in order to a viable route to peace: the reduction of ignorance and the establishment of knowledge, connection, and communication.
After reading numerous books about historical and present day Afghanistan, Tait sought out an interview with Margaret Stockover, a Fort Collins-based activist who developed the Sewing Initiative through the Afghanistan Relief Organization. The understanding he gained in speaking directly with this critical source was reflected in his ability to write convincingly from the perspective of a young widowed mother struggling to support her family in war-torn Afghanistan.
In “Women Are Women the World Over”, we are confronted with powerful images of despair – the colorless house, hungry children, and a hastily embroidered dress flung into the fire. There is a musical quality to the prose; a staccato rhythm punctuates her need, “Roof. Food. School,” and contrasts with the dreamy lyricism of her longing, “How my voice wanders like the desert winds in the south. How it wanders like the fortunes of my noble, defeated country.”
“I find it difficult to comprehend the contrast between the continuous conflict in the region and the proud, ancient culture of the people,” says Tait. He was inspired by his meeting with Margaret Stockover. “Through this interview I realized that traveling to spread peace is a tangible feat that I may achieve, even living in Fort Collins.”
With rich sensory detail and evocative images, “Women Are Women the World Over” shows us the challenges of survival in an occupied country, and the affect of government and economic pressures on her family, and the impact of one woman’s compassion. “Compassion is a beautiful thing, possibly the most beautiful thing in the world, especially when combined with initiative and ingenuity, and a will to create peace where none now exists.”
Read “Women are Women the World Over ” in its entirety on January 1st, 2013 in DoveTales, an online publication of Writing for Peace.
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