As a school we already play a leading role in community service and provide outstanding leadership opportunities for our students. As a Round Square school our students will gain an even better understanding of the world around them and connect with young people all over the world.
Since September, students have participated in international conferences in Montreal, Canada and Belfast. Year 12 girls, Lily C, Lily W and Rebecca, attended the conference in Canada with over 300 other students from Round Square schools. The theme for the conference was ‘Bring Your Difference’. As well as hearing inspirational speeches on a wide range of issues and from top Canadian academics at McGill University, they had the opportunity to engage in a community service project at a local food bank. They also put their survival skills to the test during a two-day camp in the Mont-Orford National Park, located (in Rebecca’s words), “near a big lake in the middle of nowhere!” The girls fully embraced the opportunity to make new friends. “Since returning from the conference I’ve kept in touch with students from Canada, LA, India, Bangladesh, South Korea and Australia,” says Lily W.
One of the most poignant parts of the trip was a ‘disparity dinner’. “We were given a card, completely at random,” explains Lily C, “which determined where we sat and what we got to eat. Some people had to sit on the floor with only water and rice to eat, whilst others dined in complete luxury and enjoyed a three-course meal.” During the dinner various scenarios came into play. For example, there was a tsunami, forcing some people to move from their place at the table to the floor, swapping the delicious food they had been tucking into for water and rice.
“It was a powerful exercise and really highlighted to us the inequality that exists in the world,” reflects Rebecca. “Nobody gets to choose the circumstances in which they are born and, in the same vein, none of us knows what’s around the corner. It’s certainly made me look at life differently and have more empathy.”
In March, Year 9 and 10 students, Amy, Phoebe, Ruby, Kiera and Honour, attended the Round Square conference in Belfast. The girls were blown around on a very windy day at the famous Giant’s Causeway before visiting hosts Rockport School, where they received a warm welcome from staff and students. The group travelled to Stormont to discover Northern Ireland’s unique parliament system, explored an old prison, completed an afternoon of voluntary service at the Clandeboye Estate (doing various jobs around the grounds, including mulching, logging and tree planting), and enjoyed a number of gala evenings with inspirational speakers and special royal visitors (including King Constantin of Greece). The action-packed week ended with some sightseeing and a tour of the infamous Titanic Museum before the girls said their goodbyes to their new contacts from around the world.