Service as a way of life

Posted: 02 January 2024


At the heart of the Round Square ethos is a shared belief that the foremost task of education is to inspire and equip students to be active and engaged global citizens.

In pursuit of this goal, the schools in our network encourage their students to be courageous adventurers, champions of equality and diversity, and compassionate leaders who understand that to lead is to serve. They promote positive environmental stewardship and a commitment to sustainability. And above all else they encourage students to make a positive difference in the world.

Each year Round Square schools collectively engage more than 60,000 students in social service initiatives, partnering with, and supporting, more than 1,800 communities throughout the world. In working with these communities, students come to understand, through practical experience, that every positive and sensitive intervention or act of support, however small, can make a difference.

But does this passion to understand, engage with, and make a positive difference to the world, ignited in students through their RS experiences, continue into their adult life? Do the RS IDEALS become an enduring, hard-wired set of personal values, and do RS school alumni actively and democratically engage with the societies and communities in which they live and work?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many continue to volunteer as a lifelong commitment, but a significant number also pursue a service-oriented career.

Josceline Cluff, a former pupil of Cobham Hall, in England, and now logistician for international disaster relief charity, All Hands Volunteers, says that the RS philosophy inspired her deep commitment to a career in support of communities in need.

“Everything about the Round Square IDEALS is about justice and service and helping people who are most in need,” she says. “The longer I have spent out of school, the more I have appreciated how fortunate I was to be part of such a wonderful philosophy. It’s quite a rare thing to have received an education that nurtures your desire to explore, learn and care in such an organised and exciting way.”

Claire Desbrisay an alum of St Clements’ School in Canada, is now Director of Communications for Smile Africa, a grassroots NGO that promotes STEM in Africa through volunteer based initiatives. Claire recalls how the experiences of her 6-month exchange to RS school, St Cyprian’s School, in Cape Town, “shaped who I am today.”

She says: “It allowed me to explore all aspects of the local community and organised volunteering opportunities at a local public school and children’s hospital. It was really difficult to see the contrast between the experiences of the rich and poor; differences which only seemed to be heightened by the fact that these groups were living in close proximity. It was so different to my experience of living in Toronto and made me think deeply about where my place is in the world, what I can do to make a difference, and what I can do to educate other people about these issues.”

Beyond her exchange experience, Claire says that: “Round Square gave me the confidence and opportunities to explore a more internationally focused and service driven path: studies and work focused on human rights, social justice, service, democracy. I try to embody all of the IDEALS in my day-to-day life: Making environmentally conscious choices, always adventuring at any opportunity, exploring and immersing myself in new places and new cultures, looking for new learning opportunities and making life-long friends at the same time.”

Accounts like these can be found throughout the alumni of Round Square Schools and show how their values and skills remain influenced by the IDEALS.

BBC broadcaster, Mishal Husain remembers “the internationalism of the Round Square movement, which helped spark my interest in international news and broadcasting from around the world”.

Farhanul Islam, Bangladesh-born Entrepreneur, magician and Founder of the Magicman Farnhaul Cancer Foundation, says that “Round Square took fear of challenges out of me. I knew I could achieve anything if I worked hard.”

Research Analyst, Shivam Jumani, says that: “The IDEALS of Round Square perfectly encapsulate the concept of being a global citizen. Service isn’t just about volunteering or working for a charity, Environmentalism isn’t just about planting trees. I believe you can still make an impact by expanding the definitions of these IDEALS so that they can be imbibed seamlessly in one’s day-to-day life, regardless of one’s passion and career.”

And John Russell, former pupil, and now Dean of Students, at the Marvelwood School says: “My foremost calling remains to learn from others, serve others, and while working alongside young people, help guide them to tangible accomplishments that will have profound and lasting impacts on their lives.”

Students’ first encounter with the RS IDEALS is usually through activities (through ‘doing Round Square’), but through repeated behaviour and reflection, for most the IDEALS soon become a core set of values, (‘being Round Square’) that they carry with them throughout the remainder of their lives. Whilst the RS IDEALS influence individuals in different ways, an overriding impact felt by everyone is the development of a strong social conscience and a lifelong desire to be an active and engaged global citizen.

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