Our school hosted its second Round Square Conference in October 2014. It was the first time that DAIS hosted the Young Round Square Conference. The excitement in middle school was infectious as each one of us wanted to be involved in the conference. The event started with the participation of the entire middle school section in designing the logo reflecting our conference theme - ‘Save, Sustain, Survive’. This illustration by Shreya Goenka from class 7 was chosen as the Conference logo. Our school hosted around 200 delegates from all over India and the South Asia and Gulf Region.
The unique features of this conference included the hosting of most of the delegate students by the DAIS parents. This helped the delegates have a home away from home and a family to go back to at the end of a day. The participation of NGO students from Muktangan, Akanksha and Across the Road as conference delegates lent an inclusive nature to the conference.
We got down to diligent preparation in the run up to the conference. We rehearsed long hour after hour, missing classes for putting together a cultural programme for the Inaugural Ceremony depicting the theme and the need for a sustainable development of the Earth. We met up during breaks to discuss the Barazza topics on subjects as vast as ‘Perennial conflict between People and Nature’, ‘Nature and Illegal Wildlife Trade’, ‘Birds in the Urban Context etc.’
Our teachers Ms. Manisha and Ms. Pratima hustled and bustled around, coordinating the logistics with other schools for their delegates, putting together the agenda and schedules and getting us up to date on the conference and our tasks and chores.
Finally the day came, our guest delegates arrived from all over the world. The delegates from 5 schools took part in the Pre-Conference Service Project at Kumbharghar lead by Ms. Kavita Dyas, along with three students from the Service Core group and three students from the middle school. The main tasks here included completing the flooring of the primary school, building the walls of a house for one of the village families and digging the foundation of a new house. The mid-project break at Imagica served to brighten the students who relaxed and bonded with each other after completing the physically challenging work over the two days.
Back in Mumbai schools that were to be a part of the Mumbai Darshan programme had started to arrive and were picked up by the host parents. We got an opportunity to host girls and boys from different schools at our homes – it was just so exciting to have somebody who was a complete stranger become part of our family in just 3 days.
The brief six hour Mumbai Darshan on the 9th of October gave the delegates a sense of vibrancy and liveliness of the metropolis. The visit to the famous sights of this city like the Gateway of India, the Marine Drive, the Colaba Causeway and Mani Bhavan gave the delegates an introduction into the history and culture of Mumbai.
The Welcome Dinner was a memorable evening starting with a cultural performance by the participating delegates. An enthusiastic audience applauded and cheered all the varied performances - the Bhangra, Spanish Salsa and Flamenco, Hindi poems right to retro music, plays and skits. It was a heavy mix of music, dance and drama. This was followed by standup comedy by our Drama teachers, Mr. Gupta and Mr. Pillow along with a round of icebreakers to get us familiar with each other.
After a sumptuous dinner, we went home exhausted yet excited, waiting keenly for the days to come and what they held for us.
Day 2 started with the Inaugural Ceremony. Keeping with the tradition all RS Conference’s the flag-bearers from each participating school marched up with pride. After the lighting of the customary lamp by our distinguished guests – Mr. Ranjan Biswas and Mr. Sunjoy Monga, the welcome address was given by our Head, Ms. Munshi.
The cultural programme started with a spectacular performance of Yoga Asanas, invoking Lord Ganesha’s blessings, followed by a dance performance portraying the Five elements of nature and a thought provoking skit with an Animal court seeking justice against the innumerable plights caused by the humans.
This was followed by an interactive session by Mr. Ranjan Biswas addressing issues like global warming and pollution. and ways we can help slow it down, what stayed with us is that while humans need nature to survive, nature does not need humans and still gives herself selflessly to us.
After the inspiring talk by our keynote speaker we headed to our Barazza Groups. We debated the pros and cons of diverse topics like ‘Pros and cons of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’, ‘Computers versus Paper’ and many others.
Next, we boarded the buses to visit the green lungs of Mumbai – the Mahim Nature Park, the “green haven” in our otherwise very concrete city. We walked around the park to see its natural beauty and biodiversity - insects, birds and plants. The delegates loved the green walk – our city’s ocean plus greenery makes it a unique attraction.
On the 3rd day we woke up at the crack of dawn and headed to school. We then boarded our school buses to go to Sanjay Gandhi National Park – the only forest in the heart of our metropolitan city.
We were split into two groups with one heading for a trek to explore the park and its natural habitants and the other group went to the Kanheri caves to see the relics of Buddhism. On the trek we saw all types of animals ranging from crabs to lizards, spiders to birds and for most of us this was a thrilling and exhausting experience.
We then had a stimulating conversation with our second key note speaker – the distinguished Mr Sunjoy Monga. He spoke to us about the unique national park, its inhabitants and our responsibilities as humans towards other animal and bird species and nature. The highlight of Mr. Monga’s speech was the fact that it took place in one of the 108 Kanheri Caves.
We then reached the last leg of the day where we had a mini Barazza session and wrote down Barazza group statements and our reflections and ‘take-homes’ from the conference so far.
Day 4 started with us doing our bit for nature and giving back a little. We planted small trees in dug up pits which were made behind our school, and filled it with manure and soil. We came back – hot and exhausted to school, grateful for our housekeepers and gardeners.
This was followed by a creative art session where we made ‘Best out of Waste’ using reused paper to make paper mache, boxes, etc.
The concluding session of our Conference took place in the auditorium where each Barazza Group presented their statements. These reflections by individual groups were collated together and the Conference statement was declared by the President and Vice-president of the Young Round Square Conference 2014.
All participating delegates received their certificates from Ms. Munshi
We rounded up to say our goodbyes, our hugs and our promises to keep in touch and to ‘look after our planet always, always’.
It was truly an incredible 4 day experience – we came back enriched with knowledge to nurture and protect our planet forever.
Let us together end the conflict between man and nature! -- Aditi Aranganathan (Lawrence School, Lovedale)
We can’t survive without nature… but nature can survive without us! – Barazza group ‘Sea’
We can save the environment by not cutting trees and not wasting water as there is less than 1% fresh water on the Earth – Annu Badgujjar ( Motilal Nehru Sports School)
If the environment crumbles down, we go down with it – Insha Lakhani
(Dhirubhai Ambani International School)
Our Mother Earth is in a critical condition. She must get well soon – Amar Sameer
(Indian School, Oman)
By DAIS YRS Delegates
- Tara Agarwal & Prisha Mangat