A Postcard from Doon – Adventure Collaboration Call

Posted: 14 September 2020

IDEALS: 

Discoveries:

Age:

14 to 17 years 

Lead School: 

The Doon School (India)

Participating Schools: 

Overview

We were delighted to have the opportunity to host a Round Square Postcard in June 2020, we felt this was a fantastic opportunity for our students to interact with others around the world during the global pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, we had to arrange a team quickly and delegate work so we could actually carry out the postcard to the best of our abilities. Once we had the student team together it was rather smooth as we designed the postcard, prepared the scripts and activities of the postcard. We agreed to focus on one of the six Round Square IDEALS and take Adventure as our postcard experience. 

Planning

As a team we were committed to the cause, we were able to give time to the project may it be late at night or in fact every other day. The very fact that the team was a diverse group of students from different age groups helped keep themselves checked and balanced throughout the planning and delivery. Reiterating the aforementioned statement that we prepared for adverse situations and a multitude of situations that made us feel comfortable.

As Round Square Rep I was able to facilitate this group and was in constant connection with Round Square to tailor the postcard to its best. We made it a point to listen to everybody’s ideas and then decide what to do on the basis of when we reach a consensus. This process does take time but it was the most effective method for all involved.

The students’ decision was made to have a guest speaker as part of our experience, we had to approach a few people before narrowing down on one speaker who we felt suited this topic best. We had multiple meetings and we had to decide from a vast array of ideas that were put forward by the students. Then we switched the focus into smaller groups and aimed to resolve their doubts and barriers that would shackle them from having a good virtual experience.

Then we hosted a session with each student making sure they understood their part and were comfortable with the role they executed. This was followed by detailing a plan and also creating a very basic framework and scripts for the session. Some of the students involved needed more hand holding than the others and from there additional mentoring sessions were factored in for them.

Two rehearsals were completed (one of our own and then one with Round Square technical support in order) to fine tune any hiccups that were occurring and allow the students to feel ready to take on their experience. The students felt it bolstered them and gave them the confidence they were ready. During the postcard we executed most elements according to plan and improvised where we needed to.

Details

To begin with we started with various meetings that helped us ascertain our strengths and from there we planned a module that would comply with Round Squares ideas and have a little bit of uniqueness from other postcards.

We had a brief introduction by one of our students who then proceeded to lay out the base and premise of the postcard and then went on to share our experiences of adventure and what it meant to us. Primarily we put forward the fact that adventure is not always the outdoors but in general would mean coming out of your own comfort zones. We also shared with the audience some photographs and videos and explained we at Doon demonstrate adventure in our daily learning at school.

After that we conducted two ice breaking sessions to make sure that everybody was comfortable with each other and it was the ideal atmosphere for people to share their thoughts and experiences. Then our guest speaker engaged with the students first speaking about his own experiences and then we leapt into a moderated question answer session with the guest speaker. Most questions were regarding what he felt before the expedition and what he felt in the thick of the expedition. There  were many questions regarding how to overcome anxiety and the fear of not knowing what was going to happen. Then we moved to the part where the attendees asked the speaker about any regrets that he had and if he were to commit on this journey again then what would he change.Finally the guest speaker gave advice to the young attendees, so that they can navigate the stormy waters of an adventure

The Penultimate activity we had the barazza sessions where the group was divided into smaller groups and were supported by one or two student facilitators. In these sessions discourse increased and the lead students were able to speak to attendees more. In order to facilitate discussion and engage with the students we needed to delve in a slightly personal approach. We asked about the participants connotation to the word adventure and what past memories that the participants have experienced. Now we helped them evaluate their past experiences by facilitating discussion on various topics such as emotions and overall wellbeing. The moderating students then helped the attendees to think out the future and how to approach adventure however daunting it may seem.

Moving into a feedback session where we heard from people in various breakout groups speak about their postcard experience and their learning and finally the vote of thanks was delivered by one of the host students. 

Challenges 

We encountered a plethora of challenges that bothered us, like network issues during the virtual session but we had backups and people were able to cover for the person undergoing technical difficulties.

In the preparation our duty was to make sure that everybody could control people virtually and facilitate discussion in the best possible manner which was difficult as we were new to the concept of large scale video calls and some of our team members were inexperienced in terms of public speaking.

As we were not in school where we have a regimented time schedule, we really had to struggle to set a time that was suitable to all. As mentioned, the capabilities and experience of each student is different, some students required mentoring and coaching which we conducted with them privately in separate video calls. 

Impact 

There is not much that our students could do due to the circumstances and with their school being closed for vacation so this project really allowed them to be focused and busy on a project such as this.

Also due to interaction with many people from all over the world, the students got to meet and interact with new ideologies and beliefs that was a change in their current lifestyle.

As a community there are less methods of conversation and debate which are an essential part of one’s lives, this revives that and helps ideas to bounce around.

Other students surely did give some good feedback, mostly everyone said how this session has changed their perspective of Adventure and their definition of adventure, and it was interesting to gain a global and broader perspective of the theme and learn about different experiences from people coming from various countries. 

Long Term Outcomes

As most of the attendees are young and will constitute our future generation there needs to be intercommunication among them, so this ensures that takes place. This experience also broadens the horizons of all attendees as they are exposed to various opinions and perspectives on the chosen topic.

The biggest long-term outcome of our activity was to get people getting out of the assumption that “adventure isn’t for them” when really, it’s for all of us.

Through our activities we made other participants understand that there is no real definition for Adventure, because adventure is anything that pushes you out of our comfort zones and forces us to endure the thrill of  doing something new and you don’t have to climb a mountain to consider having gone on an adventure.

This was our first time hosting an event like this and we have learnt a lot, students have learnt how to host events and plan various things therefore we would love to host such an event in the future if we are given the opportunity.

Advice

Author: Pankaj Joshi, Round Square Representative & Student Exchange Coordinator, The Doon School 

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