To coincide with the 2019 Round Square Conference in India, Emily from Year 13 reflects on the lasting impact that last year’s conference in Canada had on her.
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been one year since myself and six other girls in the current Year 13 attended the incredible Round Square International Conference in Canada, and reflecting upon our experience, we realised that after being inspired by the thought provoking speakers, interesting people that we met and being pushed out of our comfort zone, we all returned from the trip filled with ideas on how we could bring some of the Round Square ideology back to AKS. From becoming more involved in various co-curricular activities, to setting up a peer mental health support group to even hosting our own conference on International Women’s Day, our trip definitely inspired us all to help change the world one step at a time.
Some of the most prominent Round Square IDEALS for me have always been the concepts of ‘adventure’ and ‘service’, and the conference last year inspired me to book an adventure to Phang Nga in Southern Thailand for Summer 2019. Although it was daunting on the way to the airport, I knew that some of the skills in independence, teamwork and determination that I had acquired in Canada would serve me well on my trip!
I travelled to Thailand with the company ‘GVI’, an international organisation devoted to conservation work across the globe. As soon as I landed, I instantly felt at ease when I met the various people of the same age as me who I would be living with. Our first week was a service week, where we worked hard caring for baby sea turtles in a conservation centre, painting a local school and cleaning plastic from the beaches. The feeling of working with an incredibly dedicated group of people to change the world for the better was the most rewarding experience of my life and opened my eyes to a new world of conservation and sustainability for the planet.
The second week was a cultural immersion week, where as a group we toured the Southern Islands of the country and visited the most amazing places I have ever been. We spent the days exploring temples, swimming in waterfalls and hiking through the tropical rainforest, spent the evenings watching sunsets on the beach or shopping at night markets, and spent the nights staying in a variety of amazing places from water bungalows on a lake, a treehouse in the jungle, to camping under the stars! It was such an eye-opening feeling to be completely immersed in a culture so different from my own and I made memories that will stay with me for life.
I would never have had the courage to fly half way across the globe on my own if it wasn’t for the inspiration that I got from the Round Square conference last year, and I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get involved to grab it with both hands, and it will open your eyes and mind to a world of possibilities.