Round Square Conference 2017

By Bella Stash ’18

A group of international students explore a valley of mountains just outside of The Bridge House School campus during adventure day at the 2017 Round Square International Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo Courtesy of Bella Stash)

Wyoming Seminary welcomed back eight students, two faculty members, and one member of the board of trustees on Friday, October 6, 2017, as the group returned from their two-week journey through South Africa to attend the  International Round Square Conference. President Rea was eagerly waiting on campus to greet them and hear about all the transformational experiences they had. The first week of their trip was a safari experience in Nelspruit, and the second week was the conference in Cape Town.

The future of Wyoming Seminary’s involvement with Round Square is extremely optimistic. Having discovered the Round Square Organization while teaching English in London, President Rea projects that “someday we might even host a conference”. Throughout the world, there are one hundred and eighty Round Square schools that are either members or candidates to become a member. Wyoming Seminary participated as a member for the first time this year. The Bridge House School, in Cape Winelands, South Africa, hosted the student delegates for the duration of the conference. Each day, all delegates participated in activities that embodied the Round Square core values: Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership, and Service.

On the “service day”, groups of delegates traveled to several different villages in the surrounding area to volunteer their time with children from underprivileged preschools and orphanages. Although none of the children spoke English, the connections that were made were deep. Emma Bean ‘20, a Wyoming Seminary Round Square Delegate,  recalled a transformational experience that she will remember forever. “There was a boy that had nothing but an empty beer bottle to fill for water after we were running around. This spoke very loudly to me on how much those people need our help and support through their massive drought.” The delegates also brought food and donated items along with them for the children.

Becoming a Round Square school is a lengthy and time-consuming process. However, the tedious task is beyond worth it. Students who attended the conference take pride in the unity that they shared with other delegates from all over the world. Another Sem delegate, Lauren Fletcher ‘19, said that the experience gave her a “sense of pride and confidence [that] is amazing and [allows] people to be comfortable with being outgoing no matter who [they] are.”

Wyoming Seminary’s 2017 Round Square Conference delegates and accompanying faculty members proudly hold the Wyoming Seminary flag while on the Bridge House’s Campus in Cape Winelands, South Africa.

Wyoming Seminary’s 2017 Round Square Conference delegates and accompanying faculty members proudly hold the Wyoming Seminary flag while on the Bridge House’s Campus in Cape Winelands, South Africa.

The theme of this year’s conference was Unite to Ignite the Fire Within. The theme is a major takeaway point for each delegate at the conference. Jacob Shoemaker ‘20, reflected on what the delegates can do to keep the flame ignited in South Africa burning. “The first step to spark change is to educate the Sem community on Round Square.” The students will be presenting at a board meeting in November. In addition, on December 18th, the group of Wyoming Seminary delegates plan to share their experiences with the community during an assembly.