Congratulations and thank you to our RSIC2018 Hosts
Posted: 10 October 2018
Responding to the challenge to ‘Bring your difference”, over 16 days from 20th September to 6th October 1,150 student and adult delegates from 170 schools across the globe assembled in Canada for the Round Square International Conference 2018.
The Conference was hosted by three schools (Lower Canada College, Asbury College and Appleby College), each of which put on an outstanding and inspirational event over the course of a week.
Created by the students of the three host schools, the theme ‘Bring your difference’ was a true multicultural celebration of uniqueness and diversity. The official conference logo, designed by Marin Papulkas, a student from Appleby College, shows two children hand clasped in unity, looking up at two ‘balloons’ styled out of finger prints. The conference offered an exciting programme of speakers, workshops, activities and adventure.
“With so much opportunity to meet new people, experience new things, and hear from so many different speakers… Everything from the sheer diversity of my peers to the diversity of all our activities and speakers gave me this perspective and appreciation for diversity”, explains Mai-Yin Johnston, student from St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School.
During the Opening Ceremony at Lower Canada College, Heather Chisholm from Rothesay Netherwood was formally presented with the 2018 Kurt Hahn Prize for her initiative to build a school out of upcycled shipping containers. She was invited to the stage to speak about her initiative and receive her award from Round Square CEO, Rachael Westgarth.“It was very inspiring and exciting to be able to present to a theatre full of amazing people from around the world,” says Heather “I feel so honored to have had the chance to participate in the conference.”
In the run up to the conference, students from across the network were invited to submit artwork for the annual Roy McComish Art Award. The artwork was judged on composition, design, medium, quality and the best interpretation on this year’s theme of ‘Bring your Difference’.
First prize went to Leela Stein from Penryn College. Second prize was awarded jointly to Aditya Choudhury from Sunbeam School Lahartara and Sophie Thom from St. Clement’s School. Third prize was awarded to Ragib Shahariar from Chittagong Grammar School and Jingyi Qi from Lower Canada College. Congratulations to these young, aspiring artists. Click here to see some of the amazing artwork submitted.
Keynote speakers and discussion panels
Exploring the themes of ethnic, cultural, gender and religious diversity, delegates were offered the opportunity to reflect on what diversity means to them and how acceptance can be woven into their future. Keynote speakers and discussion panels across all three conferences embodied these principles with the aim of inspiring delegates’ curiosity and challenging their perceptions.
“Mr. Keteku’s poetry on the importance of difference was truly inspiring. I left that session understanding why difference makes our world a better place,” says Jennifer Salako, student from the Athenian School.
- Conference speakers included:
- Anthropologist, Wade Davis;
- Civic Activist, Amal Elsana Alh’jooj;
- Film Director, Lisa Dazols;
- Poet, Sarah Kay;
- The Government of Canada’s Director of Policy, Gurveen Chadha;
- Comedian, Candy Palmater;
- Former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson;
- Poet, Ian Keteku;
- Public speaker, Sophie Trudeau;
- Journalist Adrian Harewood;
- Activist, Emmanuel Jal;
- Educator, Social Entrepreneur and Adventurer Geoff Green;
- Ice Hockey player, Jayna Hefford.
Adventure, International Understanding and Service
During the conference, student delegates were fully immersed in Canadian culture and life, joining homestay families, enjoying tasty local foods and learning about Canada’s history and journey as a country.
“I was fascinated to learn more about how the Canadian Government is working towards a process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples, based on accepting and taking responsibility for the mistakes the government had made, recognizing indigenous rights, and developing new partnership with First Nations, Inuit and other groups,” says Dr Karina Baum, from BB&N. “Different indigenous artists performed at the conference; we admired their dances and listened to the incredible Inuit throat singers.”
Cultural excursions offered both students and adults the opportunity to explore the cities of Toronto, Ottowa and Ontario and their surrounding areas. Lower Canada College and Appleby College got back to nature with a camp experience for their delegates allowing them to bond around camp fires and experience the great outdoors – a first for many of our students (and adults!) whilst delegates at Ashbury College visited camp at Christie Lake as part of their service day.
“I did zip lining! I overcame my fear of heights and got out of my comfort,” confesses Nahlah Faisal Shahbhai from St. Constantine’s School, “After this adventure day I realized that I really enjoy doing adventure related activities and that I actually love nature and being outside.”
The service days offered delegates the opportunity to give back to the local community and the environment. Service days proved to be a rewarding mix of hard work and good fun, and for many a humbling experience. “On the service day, I did wood work and made a bat house with wood. I would call it my first home that will remain etched in my memory forever. The pride of doing things with my own hands taught me the dignity of manual work,” Says Rachit Dogra, a student from KC Public School.
The Student Cultural Performance held at each of the three host schools was an evening of pure entertainment and a showcase of amazing international talent. With student delegates from all five Round Square regions performing at each school, the evening celebrated the diversity of the Round Square network and each school’s rich cultural heritage in a riot of colour, dance and rhythm.
Opportunities to develop and exercise positive intercultural teamwork and communication skills are a core component of every Round Square Conference, and RSIC2018 was no exception.
“The best thing about the conference was that it was designed for us to learn from each other by working together and solving problems hands-on as a team, where so much more can be learned rather than in a classroom,” says Emma Harden from Buckingham Browne & Nichols School.
“The conference allowed me to tap into my leadership qualities and it helped me to analyse and improve my skills. As an introvert I found it challenging to open-up to and work with complete strangers, but by the end of this conference I was able to do so with comfort and ease,” explains Junko Ota, student from The British School New Delhi “I was able to make new friends and meet people from all around the world. It allowed me to be more accepting towards all cultures and backgrounds. Overall, the conference was a great opportunity to become more in touch with myself and my character.”
It wasn’t just students who valued peer-to-peer interaction, “interaction with other RS Reps gave me a holistic view of RS activities being undertaken in various schools. I also benefited from interactions with RS Coordinators and other School Leaderships’ perspectives,” says Anju Bhagi, Round Square Rep for The British School, New Delhi.
Change makers and self-discovery
A key feature of Round Square conferences is that they challenge students to reach beyond their comfort zone. During the conference, in a new environment, surrounded by different people, they are offered the opportunity to re-invent themselves and discover their capacity to be leaders and change makers:
“Personally, I’ve always had a pessimistic outlook on things,” admits Ollie Garvey from Buckingham Browne & Nichols School “We all die someday, I’m one person in a world of billions I’ll never make an impact, I serve no real purpose etc. RSIC changed that for me. When I was there I felt like I had a real purpose. I realized that it doesn’t matter if my name isn’t in history textbooks in the future, what matters is the small impacts I make every day. For example, I’ve made a really big impact for the future trans students at BB&N. Round Square made me feel like I belong in the world and that I matter and that I am capable of making change. It changed my opinion of my self-worth.”
“I learnt that there was another dimension to my personality which I discovered at the International conference,” agrees Says Rachit Dogra, student from KC Public School. “From a shy and introvert student, I felt that my confidence has skyrocketed, and I have been able to overcome my fears and inhibitions. It was truly an amazing self- discovery which nurtured my mind, body and soul.”
Congratulations and thank you
Congratulations and thank you the student conference committees, leadership, staff, parent homestay hosts and wider school communities from Lower Canada College, Ashbury College and Appleby College, who worked tirelessly to put on a truly outstanding event.