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Ms. Jordan's Round Square Journal

The Round Square International Conference is an annual event run by, and for, students aged 16-18. It moves around the world with students from different schools hosting each time.

In September 2022 we will once again be face-to-face for the 53rd Round Square International Conference, which will be hosted in the UK, bringing together more than 800 delegates from 50 countries around the world. The RSIC2022 will start with three days at Oxford University, before splitting out to four UK schools for the remainder of the week.

During their time in Oxford, students will be hearing from keynote speakers on topics relating to the conference theme, which will lead into workshop discussions in groups of mixed nationality, to build international understanding and a spirit of cooperation. In their down-time delegates will be dining at the Colleges, putting on a variety performance talent show at the theatre, and enjoying some fun creative and theatrical activities in locations around the City of Oxford.

Monday, September 19, 2022

We had a fantastic first day yesterday. London Heathrow was crazy, but we were all excited for a celebrity sighting–Gail King from the CBS Morning Show!

We settled into our flat in Portsmouth and met up with my family. We walked through Portsmouth, however, everything was closed. Things were quite in town and I wonder if many were home paying their respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

The next morning, we were up bright and early as we had planned a scenic ride on a hovercraft that took us to the beautiful Isle of Wight. Once we arrived, we visited the town of Shanklin which is a picturesque village with thatched roofed cottages. It was like walking through a fairy tale. After our walk through town, we sat for a traditional roast dinner at a local eatery called The Crab. As we were visiting my extended family, we also had the chance to celebrate my niece’s birthday. 10 guests singing ‘Happy Birthday’ was quite a sight!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

After two full days of visiting with friends, taking in the local culture and acclimating ourselves to the area, we relaxed and slept very well and are all feeling like we are over the jet lag.

This morning we watched part of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and are now on our way to Oxford for the beginning of the conference. We can’t wait to get started.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

First, let me send well wishes back to Skiff Mountain for your first Community Service day of the year! We’re all so sad we’re missing it. One of the guiding principles of Round Square is service and in talking to other schools, no one does it better, or comes close to Marvelwood’s commitment to our campus and local communities.

One of today’s highlights was hearing from seven Round Square alumni who had gone on to do unbelievably impactful things after graduating from highschool. One of them moved to Kenya and started a charity to help young boys who would not have a chance otherwise to attend schools. To date, his charity has assisted ninety students attend school when it would have otherwise been prohibitive. Another alumnus has been the leader of the International Red Cross that specializes in aiding those in need located in areas of war or turmoil. Through this experience, he has more recently become the top aid to Kofi Annan and continues to help with diplomacy efforts. A third alumnae won Olympic gold medals for wakeboarding. It was such a powerful and impressive line-up of success. I know our Marvelwood delegates were moved by their stories.

Last night was one of the most fun yet! Our group went to Town Call for a Ceilidh (pronounced Kee-Lee) which is Scottish Folk dancing. The girls and I danced and laughed all night. After dancing, we took the girls out to a famous ice cream shop called Georges and Danvers, which has the most divine flavors. I had black beauty which is black currant, lavender, and honey. It’s like nothing you ever tasted!

The weather has been fantastic. I hope I’m not jinxing us by saying it! It’s been sunny and 70 here all week. We are so fortunate, but miss our home and all of you.

I’m sitting on a coach bus writing and reflecting on our time at Oxford, and what a magical time it’s been. My only wish is that everyone of you and our students could have experienced all that we have.

Yesterday was another busy day with keynote speakers who presented on the environment and specifically, oceans and plastics. Our final keynote speaker was award winning Broadcaster and adventurer, Ben Fogle.

Ben has written 9 Sunday Times Best selling books and is the United Nations Patron of the Wilderness. He has climbed Mount Everest, rowed across the Atlantic, raced across Antarctica to the South Pole and crossed the deserts of the Empty Quarter in the Middle East. Bem has presented numerous programmes for the BBC, ITV, C5 and Discovery Channel including the hit series New Lives in the Wild.

He is also a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society; and an ambassador to WWF, Tusk and Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, and Patron of The Red Cross and United Nations.

After our keynote address, we had some time to explore. Unfortunately, our scavenger hunt was canceled which gave us all an opportunity to visit some other colleges, explore more of the Bodleian Library, and visit Christ Church Cathedral. There’s just so much to take in and I feel like we only scratched the surface of all there is to see and do.

Mrs. Dioiro and I had coffee in the oldest coffee shop in England.

Last night was Cultural Night and we saw about 30 schools perform. Each one of them chose a piece to represent their culture through a song, dance or comedy act. Our favorite was the Tiger Kloof School (South Africa). We also enjoyed a presentation from a school in India on yoga, and a beautiful song sung by a delegate from a school in Pakistan. It was a very impressive line-up of performances.

One thing I was quite proud of was the way our delegates handled themselves. We received a handful of extraordinary compliments about the behavior and willingness to get involved. They definitely made me, and Marvelwood, proud!

I’ll end my journal now as we take our last bus ride to a picnic at Windsor Castle and then on to Cobham Hall. I’ll be sure to wave to the Royals for all of you.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

What an interesting Thursday it was! We sadly departed Oxford and headed off towards Windsor. At Windsor we visited the castle and had a picnic in a park. There were many swans and even Canadian geese who were much more friendly than our Lucy's Pond residents. Probably due to the fact that everyone feeds them by hand all day long. Sorry, Laurie. I do confess we saved a little crust and fed a couple swans.

After that we went on to Cobham Hall. Our excitement was palpable. And driving up to the school was certainly dramatic. I hadn’t imagined the size of this hall? home? mansion? palace?? I’m not sure what to call it. From one side of it, I counted 49 chimneys. That is just one side! The grandeur and opulence is certainly apparent but upon going inside it was rather in need of major repairs and maintenance everywhere. We do like imagining Cobham Hall in its glory days. We are waking around with an air of giddiness. It’s certainly a special experience.

In the evening, we watched a movie called “Wild Child” which was filmed here at Cobham so we all got a kick out of that! We'd love to show it to everyone at Marvelwood when we return.

The grounds at Cobham Hall are amazing. They have 300 acres and I took a walk and it was so very lovely. My room is up in the upper Hall quarters. I have a small room all to myself. The room reminded me of Downton Abbey, authentic to the point that showers were cold and I had to flush the toilet with a crank.

We are all laughing our way through this and although our trip has been fantastic, we are all eager to see friends, family and share our stories with the Marvelwood community!