Students Experience Round Square Conference in South Africa
10 October 2017
The next morning we took a slight detour to Bolder beach to visit the penguins before arriving at the conference centre in Cape Town where we joined in the welcome celebrations with a wide range of performances from students studying at St Cyprians, Bridge House and St George's Grammar school who were this year’s host of the international conference. We had our faces painted and received a very warm South African Welcome.
Sunday morning was the opening ceremony of the conference and before attending Baraza debating sessions we listened to keynote speakers.
Lorne Sulcas, a game ranger, taught us lessons of leadership, team building, synergy and networking in the face of challenge and change learnt from observing Africa's three big cats; the cheetah, the leopard and the lion.
Dr William Folds a wildlife vet and rhino specialist talked of the current crisis of horn poaching. He described seeing rhinos lying helplessly on the ground after poachers had brutally removed bone, skin and horn with either machetes or axes leaving the rhinos for dead. Dr Folds dedicates a huge portion of his time championing the plight of the rhino through various initiatives and has raised a great deal of awareness about poaching and the illegal rhino horn trade.
Caleb Swanepoel could have given up on life after he lost his right leg during a shark attack‚ but instead he turned the traumatic experience into a career and he is now a South African Adaptive Surfing Champion.
The 22 year-old University of Cape Town Drama Student was body surfing with his brothers on a family holiday in June 2015 when the incident occurred. His brother pulled him from the water and they were assisted on the beach by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). Caleb attributes his mom’s support and her outlook on life that “it all depends on you” (IADOY) as the reason that a mere three weeks after, his life changed forever, he returned to the water and faced the fear head on. He represented South Africa in the Adaptive Surfing Championships in San Diego and is completing his Drama degree against all odds.
His ability to, quite literally, stand up in the face of adversity and seize the challenge shows true grit and embodies Kurt Hahn’s quote, “There is more in you than you know”
Monday morning found the pupils heading off for their Service Day. The day was spent in a number of local nurseries and primary schools. This was a fantastic opportunity to play with the children, chat to them and help them with their work.
In the afternoon we transferred to the beautiful surroundings of Franschhoek and Bridge House School. The school is quite isolated and surrounded by mountains, with the valley sides populated with vines. We received a very enthusiastic welcome and it was great for the pupils to check into their boarding houses and start making some new friends.
On Tuesday we started the day with a talk from Jason Drew, an entrepreneur and environmentalist. He gave a fascinating talk on how he has begun to tackle the problem of overfishing of our oceans for fish to be made into fishmeal to feed chickens. He has created the first fly farms in the world, where fly larvae is produced to feed chickens. He is now rolling out this project worldwide.
During the evening we enjoyed the Cultural Evening. Acts ranged from piano recitals and singing to traditional Indian dances. The audience was a very enthusiastic one and all acts were very well received.
Wednesday brought Adventure Day. Pupils were split into groups to hike in the local area. Temperatures had dropped considerably; 15 degrees Celsius was not what we were expecting!
Thursday brought the closing of the Conference and we all said goodbye to new friends before embarking on our very long journey home via Dubai.