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Inspirational speaker Kristina Paltén visits IEGS

By Lydia Barsawme

If you’re ever feeling unmotivated, here’s a small suggestion: google Kristina Paltén. You’ll find a link to her website, and there you can read about her absolutely incredible accomplishments. She has to set world records (322,93 km in 48 hours and 107,49 kilometers in 12 hours), climbed mountains, sailed from Fiji to New Zealand, the list goes on. She’s also the first woman to have run across Iran.

When Kristina first started speaking, what she was told us about herself was quite different to what I was seeing. She seemed perfectly comfortable talking in front of students and teachers. Seemed confident. But she spoke about being afraid, insecure and shy. She shared fears she’d had before starting her different runs. Kristina was very open about how she didn’t start every project sure that she would succeed, but determined to at least try.

But Kristina also acknowledged that not everything is about one person deciding to do their best. In Iran, Kristina sometimes had to depended on complete strangers to help her in a country where she didn’t speak the language or know anybody. That’s what makes her run across Iran so extraordinary. Strangers gave her fruit, bread and gifts. They welcomed her into their homes, were more than happy to offer her traditional food and treated her as the friend of God that Persians believe guests are. There is something immensely powerful about a story revealing that there is good in the world, in people. It gives hope.

When her speech was over, I wanted to say something to Kristina, but I could barely say anything. I had no idea how to thank her for coming, encouraging us to believe not only in ourselves but others as well. I guess this is how.

- Parnian Karimi-Arzenani


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