RCDS Representatives Connect with Global Counterparts at the Round Square International Conference

Rye Country Day students Kioni Shropshire-Maina '19 and Valeria Morales Ciriaco '20, along with Global Studies Coordinator Dan Murray and Upper School Librarian Jen DeVito, attended the Round Square International Conference in Ottawa, Canada. Round Square is a global organization of nearly 200 schools in 50 countries on six continents that share a commitment to personal growth and responsibility through service, adventure, leadership and international understanding. As a part of a 2018-19 RCDS Institute for Innovative Teaching and Learning project, Dan Murray and Ellie Donnell (Upper School English) are exploring membership to this global community of like-minded schools.

"The real benefit we see," says Mr. Murray, "is in the global student-to-student interactions. Outside of the conference itself, members of Round Square have the opportunity to connect with member schools throughout the school year, allowing them access to a global network of information, ideas, and perspectives."

Membership in Round Square would support the School's expanding Global Studies initiative, which prepares students to participate actively and ethically in a global community and to both understand the nature of globalization and their responsibilities as citizens in an evolving world.

The seven-day conference featured experiential learning opportunities, cultural demonstrations, daily keynotes, as well as, various social/networking opportunities. It was attended by approximately 400 student delegates in addition to faculty and administrators from around the world.

Conference highlights included:

  • Opening ceremonies featuring His Majesty King Constantine of Greece and flag bearers from each Round Square school;
  • Keynote speaker Canadian anthropologist Wade Davis, who delivered a stunning explanation of the "ethnoshere" along with photographic evidence of the diversity of human experience;
  • A celebration of the diverse history and culture of Canada's indigenous population;
  • Visits to the Global Center for Pluralism and the Aga Khan Foundation;
  • Keynote speaker Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, who connected with students (in French and English) about their concerns and aspirations;
  • A refugee simulation and a blanket exercise highlighting the indigenous perspective;
  • Service day activities at Christie Lake Camp promoting environmental stewardship;
  • Adventure day at LaFleche Aerial Park that included a ropes course, cave expedition and a zip line;
  • Keynote speaker Emmanuel Jal, former South Sudanese child soldier and current musician and activist;
  • An educational presentation on the UN sustainable development goals;
  • A "Discover Ottawa" day scavenger hunt across the city;
  • And of course, an Ottawa Senators preseason hockey game!

Kioni and Valeria both agreed that this conference promotes the same core values as RCDS, and in an immediate and tangible way that is reinforced by the international cultural exchanges that are constantly happening. "I already can't wait for the next conference," says Valeria, "and I know other students at RCDS will be excited for this opportunity, too."