University of Birmingham student says debating global issues at school helped her find her voice.

After taking part in successful school debates as a sixth former in her home town of Ballycastle in Northern Ireland, International Relations student Sorcha Hughes is urging other young people to consider this unusual hobby.

Sorcha was interested in politics throughout school and found a platform to hone her voice with Concern Worldwide, the international humanitarian charity that organises a series of ‘Concern Debates’ in schools in the UK and Ireland, in order to encourage young people to question and critically formulate opinions and arguments.

Sorcha captained her college team to victory in 2016 against more than 150 schools to win the competition. The prize saw her and five of her team mates visit Concern’s projects in rural Malawi which focused on gender equality and empowering women. Sorcha, who now studies International Relations, said that the debates encouraged her to take this line of study.

Sorcha Hughes captained her college team to victory in 2016 against more than 150 schools to win the competitionSupplied
Sorcha Hughes captained her college team to victory in 2016 against more than 150 schools to win the competition

When asked why she got involved, she said:

“The ideals behind the charity and the work that they do all across the globe aligns with my view of the world and of our responsibility to provide aid to those who need it. The Concern Debates inspired me to be more confident with my thoughts and beliefs.

A well-used phrase throughout my time in the Concern Debates was that we are all ‘global citizens’ part of a ‘global community’ – I hope to live up to these phrases by making a positive difference in the future.”

Sorcha’s top tip for students interested in debating? “Just do it!” she said, “I would say that it is not as difficult you may think it is. The best thing to do is gather like-minded people who are engaged and enthusiastic and give it a go.”

Concern Worldwide aims to work towards reducing suffering and the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries.

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