Round Square International Conference 2018: Bring Your Difference

Five Marvelwood student delegates and one faculty member attended the 52nd annual Round Square International Conference at Ashbury College in Ottawa, Canada. Anthony Guntert '19, Natasha Nash '19, Holly Schwinn '19, Caroline Siegel '19, Avante Walker '19, and Assistant Head of School Caitlin Lynch P'13 represented Marvelwood at the conference in October 2018, which brought together over 350 delegates from around the world. The theme of the Conference, Bring Your Difference, highlighted the Round Square IDEALS (internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership, service) through guest speakers, group discussions, cultural visits, community service, and adventure activities.

At the conference, a wide variety of speakers offered inspiring and captivating experiences, and gave the audience a greater understanding of what it means to be global citizens. Wade Davis shared his experiences as Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 1999-2013. Adrian Hardwood, co-anchor of CBS Ottawa News, shared a panel discussion with Ashbury College graduate Roya Shams about cultivating empathy, embracing discomfort, and living for change. Born and raised in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Roya is an activist for women's rights and girls education, encouraged from an early age by her father, a police officer who insisted that his daughters be as well educated as his sons.  A panel of representatives from six different indigenous groups talked about their history and present day realities, including the trauma of 'residential schools', discrimination, and preserving their heritage. On a special visit to the Aga Khan Foundation in Ottawa, Emmanuel Jal talked to student delegates about his life's journey from child soldier in South Sudan to international recording artist, activist, and philanthropist.

Activities throughout the week of the conference included Service Day at Christie Lake Kids Camp, an 'amazing race' in downtown Ottawa, a refugee simulation, and various adventure activities such as rafting on the Ottawa River, and caving and zip lining. Entertainment highlighting the culture and traditions of the delegates was featured throughout the conference. At Cultural Night, The Marvelwood delegation performed a wonderful acoustic version of Country Roads by John Denver. The Conference opened and closed with a traditional Parade of Flags from each school. At the Opening Ceremony, Marvelwood was honored to become a full Global member of the organization, receiving our official Round Square flag in a special presentation by King Constantine of Greece and his wife Queen Anne-Marie.

Founded in 1966, Round Square is a worldwide network of 190 schools in 40 countries, all of whom share a holistic approach to learning, built around the six IDEALS. Marvelwood was originally a member of Round Square in the 1980s, hosting the annual conference on the Cornwall campus in 1988 for a much smaller membership of 40 schools. Marvelwood is thrilled to once again to be part of such a dynamic and global organization, which affords many unique opportunities to our students and faculty. In additional to the yearly international and regional conferences, delegates from member schools can participate in global service projects and exchanges at Round Square schools. Marvelwood is one of a small number of US schools, including The Hotchkiss School and Cate School, to be members of Round Square. The 2019 Conference is in Indore, India, hosted by Emerald Heights School, a beautiful school of 4000 students in the historic Indian state of Madya Pradesh. Unlike in past years, when school delegations have been divided into different conference sites, Emerald Heights School will host all attendees which will make for an extra exciting and busy event! Any Marvelwood student who will be age 16-19 in 2019 is eligible to apply to be a delegate. More information about Round Square conferences and other opportunities, including international service projects and student exchanges, is on the Round Square section of our website. More photos are on Flickr.