For the past three years, Deerfield students have traveled abroad to attend Round Square, an international conference on environmental stewardship, democracy, leadership, internationalism, service, and adventure. Participants come from 150 secondary schools from throughout the world. This year, six Deerfield students departed in late September for the bustling island of Singapore. Despite the 23 hour long trip, upon arrival they were all excited by the cultural differences they encountered and diverse people they met.
Jeffrey Sun ’17, who attended last year’s conference in Jordan, described the conference as “a valuable opportunity for students to step out of the boundaries of school life and gain more insight into the intricate mechanism of a foreign society. At the same time, students share with each other culture-specific knowledge that will help build essential skills for intensive application in global development.”
Students attracted to the trip share an interest in fixing the world’s problems and are aspiring leaders. Ally Edwards ’17, who also went to Jordan last year, said, “I knew it would be a great opportunity to meet students from all different parts of the world that shared my same interest in improving significant global conflicts.” She also noted how knowledgeable the students she met in Jordan were on pressing international issues.
This year’s International Round Square conference was held at The United States World College of South East Asia. The conference featured a variety of languages, ethnicities, key-note speakers, and barazas (Swahili for “council” groups).
The speakers inspired the audience to take steps to change the world and think of strategies to solve global issues. “The key note speakers talked about themes that revolved around sustainability and how there was an adventure in sustainable development,” said attendee Kiana Rawji ’18. “They were all really different but had similar messages.”
The topics ranged from climate change and the ocean to poverty and developing states, all tying around the conference’s theme, “Act Today, Change Tomorrow.”
The baraza groups were council meetings and roundtable discussions, which consisted of about fifteen delegates working together to find tools to solving global problems.
“The discussion was about how to solve a problem and the steps that need to be taken in order to make sure the system is maintained,” Connor Finemore ‘18 says. “One of the most valuable parts of the baraza groups is that many different people from many different backgrounds bring their ideas to the table. Everyone is willing to share how they feel and to debate with others.”
The students who attended Round Square this year look forward to bringing back what they learned and engaging even more students in solving the world’s problems.