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Round Square
Round Square International Conference
Singapore UWCSEA
The 49th Round Square International Conference, 2015 was held at the UWCSEA, Singapore. The theme of the conference was ‘Act Today, Change Tomorrow’, and revolved around the environment and sustainability. A week-long culture and knowledge extravaganza, we came away far richer than we went.

Through the week, we attended three keynote addresses by speakers Tim Jarvis, Kavita Ramdas and Nidhi Kapur who are experts in the fields of exploration, women’s empowerment and humanitarian service respectively. Each spoke about concepts that we could relate to, such as team work, the need for being selfless and the qualities required for achieving your dreams. The addresses were inspiring and encouraged delegates to always dream big.

Delegates were divided into groups, ‘barazas’, and engaged in intense brain storming sessions, with discussions about the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals – targets spanning various fields for the betterment of the world. Through these sessions, we gained a deeper understanding of how these goals are so intricately interconnected. At the end all schools were required to form an action plan for their school based on what they had learnt.

During the conference, unusual air pollution had enveloped Singapore, colloquially termed ‘the haze’. This haze, on the entire island since a while, had formed due to illegal burning of forests in Indonesia, and was touted as the perfect example to emphasize the aims of the conference. This haze had thrown the country out of gear, some of our activities were restricted because the haze levels were too high, visibility was very low, and inhaling this air was not advisable. This directly hindered our activities, as our outdoor service and visit to the Marina Barrage were called off, but this helped us better understand our role at the conference.

We also viewed a documentary called Life is One: The Sun Bears of Indonesia made by Patrick Rouxel. In his film, Rouxel describes the emotional joyride of his hands-on work with these bears. The documentary gave us deep insight into animal life and helped us understand the different aspects of being an environmentalist.

Every school was required to submit an entry for the Roy McCormish Digital Art Competition, reflecting the theme of the conference. We created a minute long video about the present state of poaching worldwide and how we can combat it that was much appreciated.

‘Discover Singapore Day’ was a memorable day for us all. Baraza groups had the freedom to explore the country for sightseeing and shopping, while travelling by (excellent) public transport. Popular destinations included Chinatown, the Singapore Flyer, Arab Street and Marina Bay Sands.

‘Service Day’, gave us the opportunity to work for a day with mentally handicapped people and senior citizens. This experience was both, gratifying and humbling. People who were so content despite being handicapped or terminally ill made us realize how fortunate we are. Later we attended ‘rikka’ talks by Anthony Skillicorn, on improving community service, and Janne Ritskes, who has an NGO in Cambodia for the welfare of poverty stricken families there. Being on an international platform meant discussing serious issues that plagued the world without worrying about the age, gender, nationality or response of an audience, but successfully getting a message across.

Throughout the conference we were hosted by UWCSEA families, and were put up with co-delegates and hosts of various nationalities. Additionally, students of UWC put up cultural performances on several occasions. These spanned works from every continent and included energetic dances, passionate instrumentals and intense martial arts. Visiting schools too put up cultural performances on the last evening. We did a yoga sequence that was much appreciated.

This conference was a unique experience that provided an excellent exposure to the multitude of culture in Singapore and the world. We learnt to appreciate ideas and opinions radically different from our own, made friends from around the world. We made these memories for ourselves, where are eyes are never closing and time’s forever frozen still.

One DAIS student said, “It was an eye-opener really. I had never been exposed to international culture like this. Listening to perspectives that were so fundamentally different from mine has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.”

Devesh Bhura
Yash Kedia
Tanmay Hegde
Payal Chandak
Teesta Rawal
Niharika Dighe

Accompanied by:
Mr. Abhimanyu Basu
Ms. Manisha Nanda