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Isla, Eve, Amy and I had the honour of travelling to Thailand for a Round Square conference, along with Mrs Knight and Mrs Hobson. This was my first ever major trip away with school, and I Have never felt so excited. We flew from Manchester to Helsinki and then to Bangkok and despite all being very tired from the flights, we stayed extremely enthusiastic throughout the journey, before being collected by a lovely girl from the Regents International School Pattaya. One of the first things that stood out to us as we traveled to the school was the differences between there and home, seeing the temples between all the trees so close to the motorway was beautiful and fascinating.

Before we went to the conference, we first visited Regents International School Pattaya. We stayed in the boarding houses, took a dip in the pool, and went to the lessons for two days. Although we were all split up and allocated different Regents students, we quickly settled in and became close with people we’d never met before. Because of it being an international school, the lessons were all very similar to what we have here, and that was so interesting. Its amazing to think of how much we have in common with people on the other side of the globe. Everyone was so welcoming and we shared so many interests, and some of the students later joined us on our trip to Bangkok. On our second day at Regents it was their last day of term, where we got to see their final assembly, which we all found very interesting as we were able to see the ways in which a different school raised money and helped out in the community. As well as this, we got to join in their celebrations of Songkran, the Thai water festival, which basically just involved a massive water fight on the field before everyone went home dripping wet. I also got to bless the teachers from Regents, as a tradition, which began to open my eyes to Thai culture, and really made us feel welcome at the school. To me, the main thing that I took from the trip was how I was able to come out of my shell when I met these new people, and it has made me much more confident and excited for who I could meet in the future.

So then we drove up to the Regents International School Bangkok, where the Round Square conference was held. Upon arrival we quickly became friends with a group of Australians, whose happy accents and smiles were very welcoming, meaning we had some friends to go and get ice cream with before we melted from the heat. The whole purpose of the conference was to focus on the Round Square Discovery Framework, and to introduce us all to the standard aims of Round Square, as well as allowing us to meet like-minded people from all across the globe. Now, all four of us were split into different groups which represented the 12 discoveries. I was in the group for diversity, meaning that our whole aim was to get a deeper understanding of those from other backgrounds, to see our similarities and to accept our differences. I found that I really got to accomplish this by the end of the conference, as I had made such good connections with a variety of people. We all did. By the end of it we had all made our own closest friends. The first activity that our groups did together was the discovery dash, where each group rotated through 12 activities, each representing a discovery of the framework, allowing us to gain a better understanding of each of them. Then it was culture day. This was a trip to the Sampran Riverside Thai Village where we got to experience different aspects of Thai culture, from cooking and weaving to boxing, and then watching traditional dancing and fighting. It was so interesting to see the different parts of the culture, and how different it is to Britain. I think that the main thing I took from this trip was that I can be independent, and that I am a lot stronger and more confident than I previously would have thought.

The next part of the conference was our service day, where our different groups went out into different areas of Bangkok and did different activities. For example, my group went to an Amnesty International centre, while Verity made recycles notebooks, and Eve and Amy did some farming. Although our school already does a lot of work with Amnesty, it was so interesting and moving to hear more about some of their other projects. The service day truly allowed us to see different aspects of the world that we live in, and how we can help. It inspired us to come back with new ideas and new viewpoints on our privileges, and our abilities.  For our last night in Bangkok, there was a massive party with lots of neon paint and tattoos, to really allow us to have a final chance to have fun with the people we had met. And this will stay with us as some of our best memories. As well as this, the morning of our last day that will remain with many of us. Khun Lek is someone who has spent her life fighting to rescue elephants and prevent the endangered species from being abused by holiday makers. Her talk about her strong beliefs was inspiring and left us all wanting to do all that we can for whatever we are passionate about. As for what I learnt from the whole trip, I find that the main things were about the different cultures, and how people from other places perceive my own culture.

If there was a worst part to this trip, it would be leaving Thailand, as we made so many life changing and incredible connections. Unfortunately, with my luck, I became closest friends with the Australians, who kind of happen to live on the other side of the globe, but we all stay in touch with these incredible people that we have met, from countries like Tanzania, India, Denmark, Canada, Oman, the US and many, many more. All of these people have changed my view and attitude towards life and I will forever be grateful for that. One thing we are all looking forward to forward to from now on is the possibilities of doing exchanges, not just for us, but for everyone here. Meeting all these people, and our time in the school in Pattaya really opened our eyes to what we could do in the future, and the great list of places we could go.

Isla, Eve, Verity and Amy – Year 10