Four Marvelwood student delegates and two faculty members attended the 50th annual Round Square International Conference at Aiglon College. Guy Kennedy '18 of Kent, Zohra Moradi '18 of Kabul, Afghanistan, Victoria Sanchez '18 of Kent, and Sky Trapella '18 of Cornwall, attended the international conference in Ollon, Switzerland, October 9-14, which brought together over 500 delegates from around the world. The theme of the conference, 'The Journey That Makes Us', highlighted the Round Square IDEALS (internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership, service) through guest speakers, group discussions, cultural visits, community service and adventure activities.
Founded in 1966, Round Square is a worldwide network of 168 schools in 40 countries, all of whom share a holistic approach to learning, built around the six IDEALS. 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 just ten US schools, including The Hotchkiss School and Emma Willard, to be members of Round Square.
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. Peter Charad of the Race for Water Foundation
, is working to raise awareness about the massive amount of plastic waste in our oceans and on our shorelines. The foundation, "aims to identify, promote and help implement solutions that give end-of-life plastics a value and therefore prevent the plastic pollution of our waterways." Polar explorer Ben Saunders
spent 105 days walking/ skiing to and from the south pole, making him and his co-explorer, Tarka L'Herpiniere, the first to successfully accomplish the 1,795 journey. Alessandra Morelli, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
representative based in Mogadishu, Somalia
, told the delegates, "You'll need to approach the beauty in the world and the dangers in the world with hope not fear." Ms. Morelli, who survived an attack on a UN convoy which killed six people, is emphatic in her resolve to humanize the refugee crisis, challenging the audience to respect, support and accept the millions of displaced people around the world.
Three students from King's Academy
in Jordan were presented with the Kurt Hahn Prize
by King Constantine of Greece, President of the Round Square Board of Trustees and long-time supporter of the organization. Named for the founder of Round Square, who believed that education is about the growth and development of the 'whole' person, the Kurt Hahn Prize recognizes the hard work and dedication of a Round Square student or students for an outstanding act of bravery or service. The King's Academy students- Will Close, Rami Rustom and Saria Samakie established Fikra 3al Mashi
, which aims to provide education for Syrian and Iraqi refugee children. Fikra 3al Mashi utilizes 'self-guided learning', which empowers the children to learn and mentor each other, giving them the resources and problem solving skills to see beyond their life as refugees. Saria, a refugee himself, was captured and tortured by the Syrian government and later kidnapped by the Free Syrian Army. His story is the subject of a documentary by Dokumanity Films, Courage to Forgive
, which is scheduled to be released soon. Poet in Residence Mark Grist
was a favorite speaker among the student delegates. At the closing ceremony, Mark performed a poem inspired by conversations at the conference.
Activities throughout the week included a tour of Chateau de Chillon, a 15th century fortress on Lake Geneva, a local hockey game, a Star Party at the School's observatory, a trail maintenance service project, and a scavenger hunt. Adventure Day, a cornerstone of each conference, was a mountain hike. Taking routes of varying difficulty, delegates met up on top at the Villars-Gryon ski area lodge for lunch and outdoor activities, as well as breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Entertainment highlighting the culture and traditions of the delegates was featured throughout the conference, which opened and closed with a parade of flags from each school. Next year's conference is in Cape Town, South Africa.
Marvelwood sophomores can apply to be delegates in their junior year. See more photos on Flickr and by using the hashtag #RSIC2016_Aiglon on Facebook and Instagram.