UWCSEA Dover's Virtual Round Square Conference 2021 – The future of our cities
23 July 2021
By UWCSEA Dover Round Square Team
On 11 May 2021, students from our UWCSEA Dover Middle School Round Square Committee hosted a virtual global conference! With their hard work, they put together a virtual conference that involved a set of presentations, games and Baraza (discussions) groups centred around the theme: The future of our cities.
The Conference was divided in 5 main sections: Technology, Politics, Sustainability, People and Cities. In each of those topics, a panel of experts (MS Students) presented those areas including exciting topics such as AI, Model Cities, Sustainability Initiatives, Political systems and their approaches to future problems and ways that culture will impact our society. Students also had the chance to get involved in some Baraza discussions with students from all around the world!
Did you know that the word Baraza in Swahili means a gathering of people in an open place? It's a standard word used by Round Square teams in any conference when it comes to gathering people to brainstorm or discuss a topic. Our students were Baraza leaders, so during the conference, they were responsible for leading/moderating a group of eight to ten students from other parts of the world participating in our Conference.
Here’s what some of the students involved had to share about their experiences!
Isabel, Grade 8
I joined Round Square in Grade 7 because I was super excited about the trip going to Korea. I decided to stay back in Grade 8 too because I was excited to do discussions and take part in some leadership activities. Eventually, we started planning for the virtual conference, which was really fun.
The Round Square Virtual Conferences was really so much fun! We got to see so many different faces and share lots of things with different people.
It's really great that Round Square is so widespread around the globe, because it gives us opportunities to learn even more about the world outside of Singapore.
Sailagnaa, Grade 6
I believe that something which is especially unique about being part of the Round Square Organisation and their opportunities is how culturally diverse the participants of the International Conferences and Service Projects are.
I found that the most relevant part of the conference was when the Baraza group's discussions were focused on the topics that we presented. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the entire conference, especially the time that we had remaining during the Baraza sessions, as I got to connect with people whom I previously hadn't met and I was given a chance to learn more about them and their backgrounds. One of the people in my Baraza group even ended up getting in touch with me after the conference, which I found touching.
This experience helped me become relatively more independent and it contributed to helping me develop leadership skills, especially during the Baraza breakout sessions. For example, being a moderator of the discussions within the Baraza groups.
Aritra, Grade 7
In my opinion, what is unique about Round Square is the fact that we are all actively involved in something big, something important, something significant. I have never been a part of such a large group where everyone, and I mean everyone, has a significant contribution to make to this event. We are able to mingle with other people from around the world who we have never seen, yet somehow form meaningful relationships with them that we will never forget.
It feels like a thrilling experience, because I am finally able to meet people from different backgrounds.
Naturally, people from different backgrounds tend to have different experiences, which means everyone can always bring a new perspective to our discussions to further engage our thinking.
What I enjoyed the most was the chance to be able to meet and directly work with others whom I deeply respect. Everyone had such bright minds with leadership skills I have never witnessed before. I was profoundly glad and grateful to be able to collaborate with such amazing people, and that, as I mentioned, was one of the reasons I had joined the Round Square activity in the first place.
One key takeaway from this experience is that even as students in Middle School, we are capable of phenomenal feats. Before, I thought that was just a saying that was thrown around from time to time, but now, after seeing these remarkable people in action, I realise that we all have the potential to do things that can be important to others if we at least try. That was, at least, the case for me.
The experience did help me develop some leadership skills, because we all end up doing so no matter how uninvolved some of us may be – it is inevitable. Of course, this happened through being a Baraza leader - I was able to develop better planning and organisational skills and maintain the interest of my Baraza group members.
Tiffany, Grade 8
I found that allowing an atmosphere that encouraged free discussion of personal opinions was very enjoyable and relevant about this conference. That aside, I also enjoyed being able to take leadership roles in all kinds of different areas of the conference, e.g. I made the promotional video for our conference.
It could be difficult to establish an encouraging atmosphere for open discussion, but when it works it's absolutely worth it.
I think this experience helped me be more independent and develop leadership skills, because I learned to take responsibility for my own parts, as well as to collaborate with and encourage my teammates. For instance, though I was the editor of the video, I collaborated with two other people for the promotional video. The editing process helped me be more independent, since it was an independent process, but being able to discuss and listen to the thoughts and suggestions of my teammates also taught me the importance of using leadership to bring out the best of all our abilities.
Alexandra, Grade 6
Being part of the Round Square Organisation is a really great opportunity to do things within our community, but to connect with others as well. We are able to hold conferences, attend conferences, and even go on exchanges. This includes travelling around the globe and meeting new people from different cultures with different views and opinions on the world. There are many schools and colleges that provide exchanges and travel opportunities. The Round Square Organisation allows us to go to a bigger variety of places as there are so many Round Square schools and allows us to develop important skills that will be useful later in life too.
I feel like I am still able to get to know students but definitely not as well as if we met each other in person. As I am in Grade 6 at the moment, I am extremely lucky that I still have many years without Covid-19 to go hold and attend conferences, maybe go on an exchange, and many more opportunities.
I still have time to experience the real thing, but as of now, I am very grateful we have the internet and technology to even be able to call and talk to people, chatting with people globally is even more amazing.
I enjoyed working with some of my friends and with other new people from different grades. I also enjoyed using some of my spare time for something useful because usually I would probably be wasting my time and not doing anything productive after finishing all my homework so this was something I knew would be worthwhile and I am honestly forever grateful that I didn't just spend all that time staring at a screen and watching TV as that wouldn't benefit me short or long term.
To be honest, my most favourite part of the whole experience and conference was probably getting food on the day of the pre-conference and conference.
A key takeaway from this experience is how different situations are between people in different countries that are similar ages. I learned that circumstances are different between everyone even though we all come from high income families and are privileged to have education.