We discovered more: Regent's School Bangkok Global Round Square Conference for students aged 14 – 15
175 students and 42 adults from 30 Round Square schools all over the world including from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Oman, South Africa and the US participated in a vibrant and colourful conference at Regent's School Bangkok from 6th – 10th April 2018.
“I met dozens of bright inspiring young minds who will grow up and change the world one way or another; people living as close to me as Canada, to Kenya, to London, Thailand, and even Australia, I made lifelong friendships in a matter of minutes,” says Addie Saltz, a student from Saint Andrew's School, Miami “People I met for the first time on the last day are people I feel like I’ve known a lifetime, and those I met on the first day, an eternity.”
“Watching young explorers from a small regional centre in Australia open their eyes to the amazing array of cultures present at this truly international event was inspiring, they started to discover the real nature of their diverse world” says Stuart Walls, RS Rep from Scotch Oakburn College, Tasmania.
Built around the themes of the RS Discovery Framework, the conference programme allowed students to immerse themselves in a variety of activities with a truly international flavour.
Following a beautiful opening ceremony, full of traditional Thai dancing; the Round Square Discovery Dash was an action-packed team activity where the Baraza groups explored Round Square’s twelve Discoveries. “Learning about the attributes in the Discovery Dash showed me that you shouldn’t fear getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things,” says Imogen Duigan, a student from Scotch Oakburn College.
Activities included an indoor maze, which represented “problem solving”. Students entered a dark and mysterious music classroom that had been transformed into an elaborate labyrinth that could only be escaped through careful strategy and cunning problem-solving. Other activities included martial arts lessons to build “tenacity”, a yoga class to explore “self-awareness” and a charades-like game to strengthen “communication skills.”
"We learned about Round Square’s twelve Discoveries, such as self-awareness, which was the focus of the Baraza group I was placed in,” explains Jasmine Piper Sangnakkara, a student from Prem Tinsulanonda International School. “It was a really enjoyable experience learning the attributes and how to integrate them into our daily life."
Students then watched the students of Regent’s Bangkok perform a play about the Discovery Framework in which they took on characters that represented the 12 Discoveries. Presented as an alternative Keynote speech, the play led into Baraza sessions in which delegates began to unpack and to delve even deeper into the meaning of each of the 12 Discoveries. Click here to see video highlights of the Opening Ceremony and Discovery Dash.
Conference delegates had the opportunity to experience traditional Thai culture throughout the conference with delicious ‘food fests’ each evening and a visit to Sampran Riverside. Here they experienced authentic Thai hospitality, sampled traditional Thai cuisine with organic ingredients from the onsite farm and participated in cultural workshops. Towards the end of the conference students also took part in traditional ‘Songkran’ traditions including a formal water ceremony where students had the chance to show respect to their teachers.
“I enjoyed immersing myself in the Thai culture and that if you put yourself out there, you can get the most out of your experiences,” says Cassie Silberberg, student from Scotch Oakburn College.
During the conference delegates took part in a day of service learning with many activities that blended the RS IDEALS of Service with Environmentalism. Activities included making notebooks out of recycled paper for distribution to underprivileged children in Thailand as school supplies. Another group learned about composting and recycling at a local Thai farm. "My group spent a few hours with a refugee family from Pakistan; sitting in a one room space with one bed and nine family members. The personal and meaningful connection of this experience shed an entire new light on the refugee crisis for me; I can no longer sit by and not take action," explains Juli James, RS Rep for Keystone Academy in China.
Keynote speakers included Khun Lek from the Save Elephant Foundation. “My favourite keynote speaker was Khun Lek. She taught us about the plight of elephants everywhere and inspired us to make a difference in the world just like she’s done,” says Chad Rubin, students from Saint Andrews “It was a treat to hear from the country’s top elephant and animal advocate. To all those that hurt and torture those friendly giants, please consider a change! And all those tourist companies that exploit elephants and animals, we Round Square students will never support you!”
Globally Accessible Conferences for this age range are a fantastic opportunity to develop vital soft skills such as communication, teamwork and resilience in younger students. Many student delegates agreed that the experience was life changing and the topics explored during the conference offered them a lot to consider about themselves and the wider world;
“This conference has made me realize that the society children like me live in is protected and sheltered,” says Ananya Sachdev, student from Dhirubhai Ambani International School in India “Maybe I cannot change the world overnight, but what I’ll take back from the conference is that our generation is the one that can change this world, and it’s about time that we start trying.”
“Whether it was performing on cultural evening or planting creepers on service day, this conference has been a wholly enriching experience for me,” agrees Arav Dalwani, student also from DAIS “Listening to perspectives that were so fundamentally different from mine and seeing performances of schools from five different continents has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.”
“Since returning, I have been heartened to learn that our students have applied their newfound wisdom to their lives both in and out of the classroom,” says Jason Glick, RS Rep for Saint Andrews School in Miami “Students have been recorded as more apt to raise their hands in class, more confident in their social circles, and more likely to consider the thoughts and feelings of another as just a few common examples.” Click here to see a video diary of the Saint Andrews delegation experience at the conference.
Thank you to school founder Dr Virachai Techavijt, Head of School Peter Hogan, RS Rep Aina Rakotonirina, Rhiannon Hobson and everyone at Regent's School Bangkok for hosting this amazing Globally Accessible Conference.