Learning, Believing, Achieving – RSIC Conference
Date: October 5, 2018 Posted by: Sue Wicks
Round Square International Conference, Ontario, Canada. 2018
Sunday afternoon 30/9
What an amazing event the Round Square International Conference has been so far. I met up with the TAS delegation at Appleby College, Toronto on a cool Sunday morning for the Conference opening ceremony. India, Lilly, Cara, James and Mrs Moyer had attended a pre-conference tour in San Francisco prior to their arrival in Toronto and a terrific, if sometimes challenging, experience. As some of you may be aware, San Francisco is experiencing the challenge of supporting and assisting large numbers of homeless, impacted by current policies on undocumented arrivals (i.e. sanctuary city status), changed legislation on drug usage and an increase in mental health issues.
After the opening ceremony, with India proudly carrying in the TAS flag and an inspirational welcome from a member of the local indigenous tribe, students and staff from 50-odd participating schools boarded buses for a 3 hour trip to Muskoka Woods camp, a sprawling camp facility bordering Lake Rosseau in the Ontario woods. After dinner and meetings, off to bed.
Monday evening 1/10
A busy day for all. The students were involved in a variety of activities, including high ropes, team-building and problem solving activities Staff were able to attend a number of Good Practice Carousels, which were short gatherings between staff from a wide variety of schools. It was great to catch up with Fiona Godfrey, principal of Radford College in the ACT, where our Year 6 students exchange each year. Also attending was Dr Julie Wilson Reynolds, principal of another Queensland Anglican school, St Hilda’s School on the Gold Coast, who is considering applying to join St Hilda’s up with the Round Square organization.
The students and staff attended an inspirational address from local indigenous lawyer, comedienne and activist Candy Palmatar who talked about facing and overcoming challenges on her fascinating journey through life. After dinner the students joined together in the “hanger” to enjoy a concert from local Toronto “The Arrogant Worms” followed by a (slightly soggy) campfire.
It was fascinating to talk with a variety of Principals regarding the challenges and hurdles their schools face. Whilst language, skin colour, religion and lived experiences can be so different, there is so much in common. As I chatted with colleagues, exchanging ideas, experiences, “war-stories”, potential solutions and goals, our students are doing the same, albeit from a different perspective. Wandering around the campgrounds and watching students communicating easily in their groups, listening and respecting each other’s differences, the Round Square philosophy came to mind and the importance of a global approach to education for our TAS students came into focus. It reinforced with me that we must continue to provide our students with as many and varied global experiences and interactions that we can. With one of my daughters now living in Spain and studying at the International School of Business in Madrid, and the other daughter currently studying at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York, preparing our students for a global future is something I am passionate about. Our students may choose to never leave Cairns, but if they do, they will be well-prepared and truly ready to take on the world.
Wednesday afternoon 3/10
After travelling back to Appleby College near Toronto, staff and students were treated to an address from the Rt. Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, retired Governor General of Canada. She was originally a refugee from China and spoke about her journey and the challenges she faced. Students then went off with their billet families for the evening
Today students are taking part in a City Chase activity in Toronto. We will leave Canada tomorrow after the RSIC 2018 Closing Ceremony and fly back home, arriving Sunday. It has been a truly wonderful experience for the students who have made many friends, reflected on many challenges the world currently faces, and, true to the young, are filled with positivity and enthusiasm for the future and what is possible, rather than focusing on the negatives as we, the older generation, are sometimes inclined to do.
As India prepares to take up her international exchange for the rest of the year, and we receive updates from Dr Ezard and the TAS group attending NASA Space Camp in the USA, I can say with confidence that TAS is providing a truly global educational experience for our students.
NB: I will not be back until Tuesday evening (meetings in Brisbane with the Associated Heads of Independent Schools, Queensland Branch on Monday and the Anglican Schools Heads Network Meeting on Tuesday).