Imagine a world made up of 100 people. What would it look like? What kind of people would be in it? What language would they speak? What would their cultures value?
“If the World Were 100 People” is just one of the many activities held at UNRWA schools as part of the US-funded human rights education programme, which allows students to discover and appreciate diversity, as well as discuss global issues although they may have never set foot outside their own communities.
On a recent visit to Amman New Camp Preparatory Girls School in Jordan, UNRWA Chief of Staff Antonia De Meo had the opportunity to speak with the students about their thoughts on this activity and the concepts they learned. She asked the students, “What do you like most about human rights? What did you learn about the world through today’s lesson?”
Twelve-year-old Juman enthusiastically responded, “There is diversity in everything - religion, language, country, and appearances. It is awesome!” Her friend Bushra agreed, saying, “If the whole world spoke one language, it would be a boring place to live.”
As the girls turned back to designing their versions of a world map, distributing the population by age, language, religion and more, their teacher added, “If we were all the same, life would not be diverse. We would have nothing to learn from each other and nothing to contribute.”
UNRWA trains and guides its 19,000 teachers to integrate human rights issues into math, reading, and other subjects taught as part of the regular curriculum and to promote active student engagement. As part of the education programme, the US-funded Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance (HRCRT) Toolkit is a comprehensive and accessible resource which uses different activities to not only help students understand human rights, but to practice tolerance and acceptance of others in their everyday lives.
At the end of her visit to the classroom, Ms. De Meo told students, “I am very pleased to be here today and to share your enthusiasm for human rights. There are many different cultures and peoples around the world, each having unique skills, talents and experiences. The important thing is to really try to communicate and listen to what people from other backgrounds say and believe, and eventually we will understand and appreciate one another.”