The Round Square International Conference 2022 – Take Less: Be More

Posted: 05 May 2022

The Round Square International Conference is an annual event run by, and for, students aged 16-18. It moves around the world with students from different schools hosting each time. The most recent in-person conference was hosted in September 2019 in Indore in India, and for the past two years the conference has been a virtual one.

In September 2022 we will once again be face-to-face for the 53rd Round Square International Conference, which will be hosted in the UK, bringing together more than 800 delegates from 50 countries around the world. The RSIC2022 will start with three days at Oxford University, before splitting out to four UK schools for the remainder of the week.

During their time in Oxford, students will be hearing from keynote speakers on topics relating to the conference theme, which will lead into workshop discussions in groups of mixed nationality, to build international understanding and a spirit of cooperation. In their down-time delegates will be dining at the Colleges, putting on a variety performance talent show at the theatre, and enjoying some fun creative and theatrical activities in locations around the City of Oxford, including a literary adventure-race and ceilidh dancing.

On day four of the Conference, delegates will travel by coach to one of five UK schools for Adventure and Service activities: AKS Lytham in the Northwest of England, or Felsted School in Essex, or Latymer Upper School in London, or Ryde School with Upper Chine, on the Isle of Wight, or Box Hill School in Surrey.

Delegates heading to AKS Lytham will be travelling North to the seaside town of Lytham St Anne’s, from where they will visit the spectacular Lake District National Park for high ropes and kayaking on Lake Windermere. There will also be an international food festival with catering from the school’s award-winning chef and top-notch catering team. The Service programme at AKS will include turning recycling crisp packets into blankets, working with local charities that focus on caring for the elderly, and on beach restoration.

Those going to Felsted School will be heading East into the beautiful British Countryside in Essex, for some traditional country-pursuits, and a stay in the historic surroundings of the oldest Round Square school (Felsted was founded in 1564). Outdoor and forest-based activities will include teamwork and high ropes, and there will be opportunities to explore local beaver habitat and investigate environmental journalism. The service programme will involve tree and hedge planting, and, with guidance from a Netherlands-based start-up clothing company, delegates will spend time unpacking what ‘sustainable fashion’ really entails.

Delegates at Latymer Upper School will find themselves on the banks of the River Thames in Hammersmith in London, a fantastic jumping-off point for exploring the sights of the UK’s capital city. A boat tour will take delegates on a sightseeing trip through Central London. The programme will also include a special gala dinner evening with music and entertainment. The Service Programme will connect with Latymer’s long-standing local charity partnerships including West London Welcome and The Conservation Volunteers.

Those going to Ryde School with Upper Chine will be crossing by ferry to the Isle of Wight off the South coast of England. The island is rich with history and the school will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. Ryde is a seaside town, and activities planned include water sports, and visits to heritage sights such as Osborne House, made famous by Queen Victoria, where delegates will join a scavenger hunt through the gardens. The service programme is still being finalised but will likely involve conservation work and/or a sponsored run/walk.  

Those heading to Box Hill School will be heading South of London to the Surrey Hills. Situated at the foot of Box Hill, the school is surrounded by lush green countryside and also easily accessible to London. Plans for the programme at Box Hill include a hill climb, an environmental service day, a cultural trip and some traditional English cream tea and garden party experiences. Students will be staying with host families and will have the opportunity to take a trip out with their host family to visit local attractions.

Those staying in Oxford for the whole week will be switching to a different college for the second half of the week, and will have the opportunity to visit some of Oxford’s attractions, including its fantastic museums, and botanical gardens, as well taking part in activities such as punting on the River Thames and a boat cruise. There will also be a sponsored service activity and a cultural trip out of the city, hopefully to visit Blenheim Palace and Cotswolds Villages, made famous by Downtown Abbey and other historical English TV Drama Series.

In interpreting this year’s conference theme, our student hosts felt that in the past two years we have all had an extraordinary, shared experience, on an international scale – a glimpse – of what it means to take less and be more. We learnt to live with less in lockdown, and we were reminded that what we miss most is not material things but being able to spend time with friends and hug family members. They want to make this conference an opportunity to share that experience with their peers from around the world and make something positive from it. Their aim is that the conference will make a collective pledge together as a generation, “that we will carefully consider what we take from our environment and from the people around us, and always put back more than we take”.


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