by Glen Herbert
This past April, we received notification that RLCs application to become a full Global Member of Round Square was approved. Full membership brings a range of benefits, though also a formal recognition that the values of the school are aligned with those of more than 200 participating schools from around the world.
Tia Saley, instructor and the program coordinator, describes Round Square as an academic version of Outward Bound, a description that is particularly apt given that the two share the same genesis: both were established by the same person, Kurt Hahn. As an educator in the early part of the 20th century, Hahn founded schools in Germany and the UK, as well as co-curricular programs that are now delivered around the world. All expressed what Hahn wanted education to do—or what he felt education could do better—namely to give students a sense of purpose and prepare them in mind, body, and intellect to go out and change the world for the better. He famously said that, “there exists within everyone a grand passion, an outlandish thirst for adventure, a desire to live boldly and vividly through the journey of life."
His programs were intended to allow opportunities for young adults to slake that thirst. Round Square is based on six pillars, which are called the IDEALS, an acronym for International understanding, Democracy, Environmental stewardship, Adventure, Leadership, and Service. International conferences bring students and educators together from around the world to work toward some common goals.
Saley has worked with Round Square in various capacities for more than two decades, including a position on staff at Round Square itself. In 2019 she organized a delegation from RLC to attend the Round Square International Conference in India, the last in-person event prior to the pandemic. The theme was “The World We Wish to See,” and it coincided with the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth. The opening speaker was Kailash Satyarthi, a child’s rights activist who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. There was a performance artist, an electronic music producer. On the final day of the conference, participants took part in a three-kilometre run alongside Major D.P. Singh, a retired officer of the Indian Army and a war veteran known as India’s first blade runner, as he runs on prosthetic legs. ("D.P. Singh’s biggest inspiration was Terry Fox, which he talked a great deal about," says Saley, noting a nice Canadian connection. "Fox’s determination helped him get through his healing process and started him running.")
While in India the students had a chance to experience the natural environment as well. They went up into the mountains, and went white water rafting on the Ganges. “There are some pretty memorable things you get to do as part of the experience,” Saley says. More than a window on the world, it situates the students as participants within the global context. “We’re in this peaceful, beautiful calm,” Saley says of the RLC campus, “but then we get to have this flavour of all these other things as well.”
During the pandemic, our students attended virtual conferences, including one this spring hosted by a school in Paris. The theme was leadership through the lens and influence of music. In May, RLC students will be heading to the Bahamas to take part in a Round Square reciprocal experience, with students from the Bahamas coming here in January.
The first in-person RSIC post pandemic is taking place this September 19-24th. The theme is “Take Less, Be More” and begins with three days at Oxford University with breakout groups hosted at schools throughout the UK for the remainder of the week, followed by post-conference tours to Germany, Scotland and Wales. The conference will focus on what it means to be a true global citizen, to “carefully consider what we take from our environment and from the people around us,” says a student organizer. "To always put back more than we take." The student organizers chose the theme in part because of how it extends some of the things we’ve learned through the experience of the pandemic. Being together again, face-to-face will be an important aspect of the experience. They'll be sharing thoughts and perspectives on what it means to be a global citizen in today's world.
And RLC students will be there.
We’re proud to be full members within such an important international organization. For more on Round Square, visit the RS website by clicking here.