News from SCIS:

50th Anniversary Round Square Conference at Aiglon College, Switzerland

dsc02984 During the October half term break, two members of staff and six students travelled to Geneva in Switzerland to attend the 50th Anniversary Round Square International conference. It was the first International Conference our school has been to, and was especially important as we were officially welcomed as global members of the organisation and received our Round Square flag.

After a long overnight flight, everyone was glad to have a free day to explore Geneva before the hard work of the conference started. We explored the old town and climbed all the way up the cathedral tower to gain a stunning view over the city and its lake.

A short train ride along the lakeside brought us to the village of Aigle, before a coach ride took us high up into the mountains, where the international school of Aiglon is situated.  There were over 500 participants from 75 member schools (the other half were at a parallel conference in northern Germany) so a lot of people to meet and greet! Our students stayed in different boarding houses, supervised by the Aiglon house parents. This soon had them mixing with many different people.dsc02990

The conference opened with a variety of dance and musical pieces put on by the host school, along with the flag ceremony – it’s a lot like the Olympics!  The days followed a similar pattern, with keynote speakers inspiring students before they broke into their barazza (debating) groups to discuss the ideas that came up.  The theme of the conference was “The journey that makes us”, and everyone spoke along these lines.  We heard from Sir Jackie Stewart (a highly successful Formula One driver, now an advocate for dyslexic provision), the commander from the Apollo 15 lunar mission, people trying to save our planet, an astronomer on the lookout for rogue comets, a man attempting to clean up the world’s oceans, and a lady who is empowering the women of rural villages in India and Africa to become their own solar engineers.

The week was not only cerebral, however. One day the entire conference was split into groups to go for hikes in the beautiful Swiss mountains; another day saw us repairing footpaths, visiting castles, and attempting a high ropes course.  As might be expected in the Alps in autumn, it was freezing at times, and one day we even had snow!  But when the sun shone, the views were stunning and we came down from the mountain on a cable car with great visibility of the entire panorama.

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We were welcomed as global members of Round Square, met King Constantine of Greece, and helped to plant a tree marking the 50th anniversary.  All too soon, however, it was time for the final night cultural performance, where our students put on a beautiful dance piece evoking Tanzanian culture to rapturous applause.  Students said their goodbyes to people who had become good friends and returned to Geneva via Lausanne, where we explored the Olympic Museum, and tried to beat Usain Bolt’s time on the 100m (not even close).

We look forward to the next International conference in South Africa in October 2017…