Debating the 'Human' in Humanity
This weekend saw Manchester High School for Girls host its annual Model United Nations Conference with 180 delegates taking part from 22 schools across the country. The virtual event debated the theme of “Humanity” through nine different committees and councils, all Chaired by pupils at the all girls’ school.
Now in its seventh year, MUN High 2021, is a simulation of the real United Nations which gives students the opportunity to debate global issues as delegates from UN member states. This year the debating took place over Zoom, beginning with an opening ceremony that introduced the girls on the Organising Committee through a parody of the infamous Handforth Council Meeting and ending with a live awards ceremony.
Mrs Lucy Lomas, who oversees the event at MHSG, was delighted by the success and said,
“The girls in Organising Committee were amazing; unflappable and professional at all times. Ria especially, rose to the challenge as Secretary General.”
They were thrilled to have former pupil, Majida Rasul, a current staff member of the United Nations, deliver the Keynote Speech this year. Speaking in her personal capacity, Majida talked about her experience of working for humanitarian, human rights and peace and security organisations across the world. Her roles have taken her from tents in refugee camps to palaces and put her “in a 17-vehicle motorcade that have shut down an entire capital city as well as a rickshaw that broke down in the mud!”
In an inspirational speech that was extremely well received by delegates and advisors, she talked about the extremes of her career that have put her around negotiating tables with politicians as well as sitting “under the shade of a tree discussing community matters with displaced people ”.
She poignantly reminded delegates of the importance of humanitarian and peace and security work,
“It’s shown me the worst of humanity through war, abuses and violations and it’s also shown me the best of humanity through people’s resilience and kindness to one another.”
For the Class of 2006 Alumna, lessons have been learned along the way,
“Training and knowledge,” she said, “can mean nothing without understanding – without understanding it can be too easy to lose the humanity in our work.”
She concluded by reminding delegates of three fundamentals for building and maintaining that understanding that is essential in keeping humanity at the centre of our efforts: always listen – it takes humility and wisdom to imagine another perspective or equally valid view; question – not only your opponents but yourself; and “Zoom Out” – consider how you will tell your story in years to come and how you will judge yourself.
Such wise words will be hard to follow next year but the hope is that MUN High 2022 will be an in-person event once again where students will have the opportunity to debate more important topics. In the meantime, Majida reminds us we must,
“Always remember the humans in humanity.”