This year, Saint Andrew’s School students took their passion for the IDEALS on the road by attending the 2018 Round Square International Conference. The conference was hosted by Lower Canada College of Montreal.
Scots Seniors Jessica Schneider ‘19, Victoria Glenn ‘19, Olivia Gurfinkiel ‘19, and Shanna Bober ‘19 bundled up and embarked on this adventure to Canada.
With the theme of ‘Bring Your Difference’ as its platform, the conference exposed students to high-level programming ranging from service activities in downtown Montreal to adventure exploits in the Canadian wilderness. Round Square International Conferences are characterized by world-class keynote speakers, and this year’s edition was no exception.
Out of the four keynotes, it was universally agreed upon that Wade Davis, ethnographer, and Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, was a highlight. Davis spoke, uninterrupted, for just over an hour on his lifetime of traveling to remote parts of the world to uncover the various forms of reality that each culture has created for itself.
“While his message was an elegantly meandering exposition of his complex theories on race, culture, the human condition, and hope for the future, the thrust of his talk was that race is a fallacy. We are all one people, and no single culture has a monopoly on civility, grace, and happiness,” said Jason Glick, Director of Student Life and Experiential Education.
Davis espoused that, love conquers all, and respect for our differences is what will save our precious planet. These are ideals that align with Saint Andrew’s School’s values and mission.
“I looked around the room and realized that every single of one of the students were from a different country, but we all have such similar ideas about world issues,” said Shanna Bober. “Being with such a diverse group of people and hearing their perspectives reminds us of how people from all around the world are truly the same at heart,” she added.
Director of Student Life, Jason Glick, offered an invitation to Wade Davis to speak with the Upper School. Davis was thrilled to be invited and is looking forward to a trip to SA during February.
Other highlights of the conference included a two-night stay at the Jouvence overnight camping grounds. As part of this adventure component of the conference, student delegates participated in soapstone carving, lumberjack games, boot camp exercises, and canoe racing, to name just a few.
“The highlight of the conference for me was meeting people from all around the world. We spent a week in New York and Pennsylvania for our pre-conference collaboration with a group of students from Peru, and it was amazing how close we all became in such a short amount of time,” said Shanna Bober.
And it's the people that truly made the conference meaningful for our Scots. The Jouvence counselors were colorful characters with French accents, often dressing in costumes resembling carnival barkers, bohemian hipsters, 90s club kids, or stowaways hitching a ride on a runaway train out of a forgotten Fellini film. The team, appropriately dubbed ‘The Animators’, helped to ensure that each activity block was fully enjoyed by all.
Most importantly, the lucky student delegates returned to Saint Andrew’s with a greater understanding of global issues and what it means to embrace a diversity of thought and circumstance. Weeks later, our students still delight in recounting the memories created in an international setting.
Saint Andrew’s Round Square leaders want to encourage Scots to attend future conferences. “I would like to emphasize that it is possible to not fall behind at all in school when going on these trips if students manage their time right,” commented Shanna Bober. “I hope many students sign up for the trips and take advantage of all the Round Square opportunities,” she added.
Our young delegates were a part of something that will never fade from their emotional constitutions, fulfilling in them a need for community. For an insider’s look into the sights, sounds, and marvels of the conference experience, please click here.