RSIC 2015, UWCSEA
2nd - 8th October 2015
Act today, Change tomorrow
In October 2015, UWCSEA hosted the 2015 International Round Square Conference with delegates from 128 schools in 36 countries attending. The theme was ‘Act today, Change tomorrow’ and students considered the complex issue of sustainability.
“We hope that by the end of the conference all our delegates will have had an opportunity to explore the complexities of sustainability and will have grown in understanding both of how we can all think about this important concept in our own context, and (more importantly) how we can take action that is meaningful and measurable.” Explains Chris Edwards, Head of College at UWCSEA “We don't have all the answers, and the Millennium Sustainable Development goals are an enormous challenge to us all, but we believe that if we continue to ask the right questions, and share best practice, we can genuinely 'change tomorrow.”
The opening ceremony was a riot of drums, dragons and colour. The performances showcased Singapore’s cultural diversity including cultural influences from China, India and Malesia. The conference was officially opened by His Majesty King Constantine, President and Patron of Round Square and Queen Anne-Marie.
The conference was split over UWCSEA’s two campuses to accommodate nearly 1,000 people participating in the conference including the student/adult delegation and UWCSEA’s students.
Delegates participated in a range of Baraza and Rikka groups focused on identifying where individual action can be taken to support sustainability and to develop further understanding of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. “We started off with simple ice breakers to gather our interests, then we talked about the UN Globally Sustainable Goals.” Explains Collingwood Student, Kelly “We ordered them and thought about the causes and effects of our world and the consequences if one of them was to be abolished.”
Keynote speakers included Round Square Idealist and environmental scientist Tim Jarvis, AM, human rights activist Kavita Ramda and humanitarian Nidhi Kapur.
A ‘Discover Singapore’ day offered students and adults the opportunity to explore and experience the multicultural melting-pot that is Singapore. Delegates experience a variety of cuisines, travelled by public transport (always an experience) and appreciated many of the popular tourist attractions including Little India, China Town, Orchard Road, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.
Students participated in a variety of pre/post conference trips to locations including Cambodia, Bali and Malaysia allowing the students to explore the region and immerse themselves in a different culture.
“The challenge that faces our generation is that our work for a more sustainable future is now more urgent than ever.” Stated Caroline Meek, Chair of the RSIC 2015 Steering Committee “By 2050 the world’s population will be nearly 10 billion, of which several billions will need more access to resources such as clean water, housing, food and energy. Ensuring that we end poverty whilst preventing major climate change and depletion of natural resources is the task we must conquer. We want this conference to be the inspiration for all of us to take on this task.”
The conference concluded with the opportunity for student delegates to implement an Action Plan for their school, outlining the details of their plan and a six-month progress report. The Action Plans proposed by various schools pledge small but powerful changes including paperless days, recycling, tree planting and educating others to help make a change.
Students returned home enthusiastic about sharing their experience and making more sustainable choices at school and at home. Grade 12 student, Ariel from Glenlyon Norfolk School in Canada reflects, “We’re going to focus on initiatives such as saying no to plastic bags, and other small changes we can make now that will have a big impact on the future.”
“The purpose of the trip from my perspective was to gain a deeper understanding of Round Square. To experience the benefits Round Square provides to our students and to witness how the students handle themselves in an international learning environment and what effect, if any, this would provide.” Michelle, Student Delegate from Ivanhoe Grammar School in Australia.
“I gained international mindedness in the sense that I became more aware and respectful of the vast diversity of cultures and nationalities that were around me. I was free to express my opinions and views in our discussions on the topic of sustainability as well as debates on the speeches from keynote speakers.” Sei, Student Delegate from an Observer School.
“At the end of my stay in Singapore, I very glad to say that I have learned a lot. Not only about what the conference was aiming to teach us…. But mostly about myself” Margot, Student Delegate from Felsted School.