Saint Andrew’s School welcomes back five Middle School students from their Round Square excursion to Thailand. The adventurous Middle Schoolers included Rosie Schneider ‘23, Nicole Aguilar ‘23, and Arianna Arizmendi ‘23, Alia Pereyra ‘24, and Alyssa Thomas ‘25.
The genesis of Round Square can be traced back to Kurt Hahn, whose philosophies and practices were exercised first on the campus of Salem in Germany, and later at Gordonstoun in Scotland. Well ahead of his time, Hahn believed that a rigorous academic program is important, but only a part of the story. Hahn placed equal emphasis on character education, learning by doing, and many other ‘soft,’ skills that we hear so much of today.
“In planning our most recent Middle School excursion to Thailand in the name of Round Square, achieving an experience worthy of Hahn’s endorsement was very much at the forefront of our minds,” said Jason Glick, Director of Student Life & Experiential Education.
When the SA Middle School group recently embarked upon its wildly successful trek through the heartland of the 'land of smiles,' it was in collaboration with two other Round Square institutions with like-minded principles and pedagogical goals.
“It was really cool to interact with people who live different lives that I do - not only in Thailand but also in with our peers from Canada who joined us on this trip. I made great friendships,” said Rosie Schneider ‘23, grade 8 Round Square adventurer.
SA joined dozens of Middle Schoolers from the superlative Fern Hill School located outside of Toronto. This trip marked Saint Andrew’s sixth joint excursion, and the third sojourn to Thailand since the beginning of this historic Round Square partnership. The Prem Tinsulanonda International School, another Round Square school, located in Chiang Mai, played host to the combined group, inviting the group to partake in their world-class ‘Visiting Students Program’, which perfectly embodies the spirit of Round Square and its IDEALS.
“As adventure is a key component of any representative Round Square experience, a highlight of Prem’s Visiting Students Program was an extended kayak trip down the Mae Ngat River, which culminated in an overnight stay on a floating houseboat,” said Jason Glick.
The long and adventurous voyage down the winding river was thematically analogous to the greater journey embarked upon by the entire group. “Like the trip, itself, Saint Andrew’s and Fern Hill began the river excursion with uncertainty, unsure of exactly what lay ahead. However, once aboard their trusted vessels, and with the moral and physical support of our compatriots, our two schools learned to trust ourselves and one another,” he added.
“I definitely learned a lot about myself because I stepped out of my comfort zone,” said Nicole Aguilar ‘23.
Another highlight was the three days of service with Cru Nae Shashaboya and the Mae Mae School in the Hill Tribes of Chiang Dao. The focus of the service project was the construction of a concrete pad that now houses the school’s playground contraptions. “It made me so happy to help out another school. It was a once in a lifetime thing,” said Arianna Arizmendi ‘23.
SA students mixed copious barrels of concrete and laid the outdoor floor with alacrity over the course of three long days. The work was demanding and unrelenting, yet the students worked incredibly well together, nary crying a foul word nor abdicating their responsibilities for even a moment.
“The playground was unsafe before we got there, and we were part of making it safer and more fun for kids,” said Alyssa Thomas ‘25. “It was so rewarding and nice to give back to the kids at the Mae Mae School,” added Alia Pereyra ‘24.
A special thanks to chaperones, Ms. Stephanie Capone and Mr. Jason Glick for their hard work, adventurous trekking, and careful watch over the group of Middle School traveling Scots.