A speaker who makes a difference

Posted: 22nd September 2016

Visit of Mona Arshi to Upper V and Priory 6

One of the central themes of our vision is to ensure that girls leave St Augustine’s Priory equipped with the full range of skills required for life-long success.  To this end, Ms Hagerty, newly appointed Director of Priory 6, has organised a programme of speakers to come in to the school to inspire the girls with their ideas and views.  The talks are open to our Upper V and Priory 6 girls, igniting and expanding their thoughts around their possible future careers.

Who better, then, to launch the series of talks than Mona Arshi on Thursday 15th September, former human rights lawyer and now published poet?  Ms Arshi is an Augustinian parent who grew up in Hounslow.  A model of versatility, Ms Arshi is an excellent example for our girls, especially in an environment where we are so passionate about empowering young women.  Standing in front of the girls in the Priory 6 Common Room, Ms Arshi spoke about how she had volunteered at Amnesty International Women’s desk during, and at a women’s refuge after, university and how, in her early years of becoming a lawyer, worked on some unforgettable cases such as that of Stephen Lawrence, as well as those of many asylum seekers.  Incredible experience, but experience that she assured the girls is always available as a lawyer, if you seek it out.

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When quizzed about how to decide what to pursue as a profession, Ms Arshi advised the girls that you really need to think about your ambition and what motivates you.  She believes that her parents instilled in her a real drive to work hard, but that she did not necessarily get a sense of determination from her school, and she noted our girls certainly do here.

Mona’s powerful talk was followed by an opportunity for the girls to ask questions and helped to give some insight to those girls showing an interest in studying Law themselves.  When Ms Hagerty asked what one might do if having difficulties finding the funds to study Law, Ms Arshi explained that if you are really motivated and proactive, then you can apply for internships and work experience, which sometimes lead to training contracts.    She explained that you need to increase your value by adding skills and experience to your academic practice.

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When asked about the challenges she may have faced at work in terms of her own principles, Ms Arshi responded that she understands that everybody has a right to be represented, which reflects the morals we teach our girls here at the school.  Another fantastic message imparted to our girls last week was the way in which Ms Arshi drew a connection between Law and Poetry.  She explained that both are linked to changing narratives and what it means to be a human being,  exploring the idea that “there is more that unites us than makes us different”.

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It was exciting to see the girls so captivated by Ms Arshi and really emphasised their love of learning and cultural curiosity.  Thursday’s talk not only added to the intellectual risk-taking and emotional strength we instil in our girls, but ties in perfectly with the upcoming National Poetry Day on 3rd October.  We would like to thank Ms Arshi for taking the time to come to St Augustine’s Priory and for being such an inspiration to our senior girls.

Watch Mona Arshi’s poem, ‘The Minister of Light’ as read by our girls for last year’s National Poetry Day at http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/poet/mona-arshi/

Categories: Senior Sixth Form Whole School
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