The Round Square International Conference has finally come to Jordan, and it is King’s Academy’s turn to shine. Next week, our school will host the largest conference in its history. With 490 participating students and another 100 adults, this conference will also be the biggest event that a Jordanian school has hosted on its own. Three years ago, in the spirit of Jordanian hospitality, King’s Academy stepped up to the challenge. Ever since, students have been hard at work to turn this event into a reality.
Round Square is a student-led organization founded by Kurt Hahn, a German educator The organization encourages students to grow outside of the classroom environment. This is why it sponsors dozens of international and domestic community service projects annually. We continuously hear of the great things that this organization has made possible, such as the building of homes, water tanks, community centers, schools and other essential facilities for less fortunate communities around the world. But what is truly impressive about these achievements is that they embody the wills of high school students just like us. Such students’ energy and commitment are what make this possible. Every day, Round Square proves to the world that young people have the power to make changes, and can take the responsibility to lead the world.
The annual Round Square International Conference brings together pioneering students from all over the world to engage in many activities, perhaps the most important of which are the Barraza group discussions. The discussion groups cover a wide range of topics, including the environment, war, poverty, and other major issues facing the world. The participants also get the opportunity to learn more about the culture and heritage of the host country by visiting its historic, cultural, and urban centers, thus forming a better understanding of the world around them and getting the chance to build bridges with other students around the world.
Once every 50 years, a Round Square member school will get the chance to host such a conference. This year, it is our turn.
King’s Academy earned the right to host the 2014 Round Square International conference in 2012. Since then, the conference has become enormously important to our students. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, regions all around Jordan have plunged into chaos. At the current moment, it doesn’t appear that things are going to improve. Unfortunately, these circumstances have overshadowed the other trend that exists in the Middle East—the trend of acceptance and peace in which we all believe. As students at King’s, we see Round Square 2014 as our golden chance to showcase what the Middle East could—and should—be like.
In planning the conference, we’ve faced numerous challenges, the first of which was convincing other schools that Jordan was an appropriate host country for the conference. It was shocking to see how many people believed the stereotypes surrounding our region. But when 150 students visited Jordan for the 2012 regional conference, our hopes were raised and the misconceptions surrounding the region were swiftly erased. Following the conference, our friends returned to their home countries, looking forward to tell their friends and families the truth about Jordan.
At the same time, the difficulty of making 150 students feel comfortable was a wake-up call for us to increase our efforts. With more than double the number of students attending the conference in 2014, we faced double the challenges. The second challenge was accommodation. At the conference, King’s Academy aims to showcase Jordan’s exceptional hospitality. It was finally decided that the every single conference participant would be housed in a dorm room. With that, King’s Academy’s students were given yet another responsibility. Mrs. Tessa commented on this, saying that “placing those young men and women in one campus will bring them closer to each other. It will lead to memorable conversations and help in creating bonds.”
But there were many other issues that had to be addressed. The students took part in organizing transport and entertainment, inviting guest speakers, creating a schedule, deciding trips, and choosing service projects.
After three years of planning, the start of our preparations feels like it was just a week ago. And two weeks from now, everyone will leave the conference with new friends, great memories, and a better understanding of the Arab world.