By: A.C. Leonetti, M. Weber, I. Weber, Ms. Oparaocha
Friday 29th September - Friday 6th October, 2017
St. Paul’s was invited to take part in the prestigious Round Square International Conference 2017, held in Cape Town, South Africa, as an observer. Round Square is an organisation, a not-for-profit network of 182 schools from 50 different countries that has been founded on six ideals: internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership and service. It is governed by a Board under the Presidency of His Majesty King Constantine. Three pupils from the Upper Sixth, made successful applications to represent the school, Anna Carolina Leonetti, Isabela Weber and Martina Weber. They played a full part in the conference that included a stay in the dormitories connected to St. George’s Grammar School.
The event began with an opening ceremony that included flag bearing and exciting guest speakers who introduced the theme: “Unite to Ignite the Fire Within”. Lorne Sulcas (The Big Cat Guy) invited delegates and representatives to understand their global role as future leaders with responsibilities and made comparisons with his work in the wildlife with big cats emphasising the importance of cooperation and collaboration.
The President of Round square and his wife were attended the conference and gave out prizes and congratulations to delegates who had undertaken projects to improve conditions in their communities, leaving a lasting legacy.
On the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Round Square International Conference, the words of a speaker, not that much older than me or my fellow delegates, really stuck to me. “We cannot help everyone,” she said, “but everyone can help someone.” I kept this in mind for a few days, overplaying it in my head, unsure of what to think of it. Yes, everyone can help someone, but most won’t, so how can only one person’s acts make a difference?
And then came service day. On Tuesday, around 30 students (including me and my sister) went to a community called Village Heights, in a less privileged area of Cape Town, whilst other students went to public elementary and high schools. Upon arrival, while others went gardening or painting, I was sent to play games with a group of children. Confused as to how this would add to the community, I went along, and, within seconds, discovered the positive impact that our mere attention had on them.
Smiles grew on their faces, widening as each person joined their circle. Their faces screamed ‘curiosity’, to learn about us and our different backgrounds, to discover new games to play, even to find out how to use the camera I was carrying with me. It really stunned me the extent at which they took advantage of our presence in their community to enlarge their own horizons, to grow as individuals, and to learn about the world they live in. I could truly see how, just by playing a few rounds of ‘duck duck goose’, I had already made the day of the children 10 times happier.
We didn’t have to donate thousands of dollars in order to help out that community, we didn’t have to give the children presents for them to enjoy our presence. The smallest of actions really can have the greatest impacts. Everyone really can help someone.
As some sort of pathetic fallacy, the skies of the adventure day woke up as blue as the body of an African peacock, and no traces of clouds could be seen anywhere, at any time. It was indeed the perfect day to visit the Cape of Good Hope. Arriving there, we were immediately drawn to a base next to the starting point of our walk, where we could see the whole of the most south-western point of the African continent from above, and we already knew that the lengthy hike would be worth it. The experience as a whole was enchanting: the walk was not tiring (except for when we decided to take a detour and go down to the coast to then realise we had to climb back up), the weather amazing, and the views so perfect we could not help ourselves but stop at every aesthetically pleasing spot we could find (every few meters), to take pictures with our newly formed Australian friend. It was a paradise we were extremely grateful to have signed up to visit! After some reflection, I realised that exploring different parts of the world is key to growth in every positive way possible, even if the experience might not always be as glamorous as our adventure day was! One may call it wanderlust or even just simple curiosity, but I consider it a synonym of success.
Round Square were very keen to welcome S t. Paul’s and support the membership process. It was clear from the research carried out prior to the trip, how prestigious and respected the organisation was. However, St. Paul’s was on a mission to find out how membership would benefit the school, its brand and our pupils. This was the main purpose of the visit to South Africa.
Many schools were eager to make links with St. Paul’s and begin talks on pupil exchanges and joint service projects. It was clear that standards and pupils ambitious were high and St. Paul’s would add value to the organisation, largely due to the success of the community service projects, the high academic standards, the location (currently Brazil is not represented) and the ethos of the school ( inclusive, fostering global leaders with a commitment to developing the whole-pupil).