Olive trees are cherished; deeply rooted as they are in Arab land where conflicts persist alongside the arid climate, their nature of kindness and fortitude refuses to submit to the desert of stereotypes. As the future leaders of this region, we seek to disseminate the greenness of peace. With an olive tree logo, the upcoming Round Square International Conference strives to spread its theme “Al Salamu Alaikum” (Peace Be With You).
Round Square is a world-wide association that aims to cultivate students’ social responsibility and virtues beyond academics through programs of community service, leadership, exchange and adventure. As the first Arab school to become a member of the Round Square organization and the first school in this region to hold an international conference, King’s Academy is extremely privileged to represent its unique identity of both internationalism and the Arab world.
When I interviewed the Round Square office about what it feels like to organize this huge conference, Ms. Gertrude answered with great insight: “I feel a sense of oneness. Each individual in the school is handling one piece of this huge puzzle with an understanding of the whole picture. The Round Square Office is only one of the many pieces of the mother puzzle built by the school.” The puzzle metaphor is brilliant not only for the local tradition of mosaics (a sort of urform of the puzzle), but also because the abstract and mysterious idea of Round Square becomes clear when we see it as an identity of our school, its missions as our own responsibilities, and ourselves as little pieces of the puzzle that can make magnificent images when we work together to present ourselves, the school and the region with responsibility and hospitability. “Everyone has his or her own roles in the Conference.” Ms. Tessa, the head of our Round Square office concluded.
The Conference certainly serves as a peace-maker to bring together people of different beliefs and backgrounds. And—to be honest—even if internationalism or democracy discussions don’t appeal to you as much as they should, you will definitely enjoy the performances, interactions, and excursions to Petra, Shobak Castle, Dead Sea, Wadi Rum. Prepare to be awestruck by the extraordinary natural beauty of Jordan, even if you have been to these places many times. Along the whole journey, our goal is to build connections: we connect with each other by making new friends; we connect with the community by giving back our service; we connect with the region by deepening our understanding of the Arab world and of the theme “Peace” through the various interpretations of our twenty-six guest speakers who will come share their experiences and insights, which we will discuss in Barazza groups. We also connect with the world by broadening our knowledge about various cultures and learning to celebrate our differences.
Last but not least, as we may confront issues that are problematic, not only in this conference but also in our lives regarding our identities, it is necessary to always remember and cherish olive trees, the symbol of peace, strength, and understanding. We are puzzle pieces to make a beautiful mosaic. We are bearers of olive branches that reach out and grow stronger individually and collectively with the spirit of the school.