As I waved goodbye to my Bermudan friends as they left for the airport, I reflected on the past week of the Round Square International Conference. ‘Two years of planning, all over in a week,’ I thought. I was reassured that the impact that the conference had made could not be measured merely in time, so the two years were certainly not wasted. The delegates of the conference, many of whom were on their first trip to the Middle East, went home with far more than a t-shirt, a hatta, and a fancy certificate.
We had the opportunity to listen to voices from all over the region. The conference began with Nooreddin Amer, a King’s alumnus, sharing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the eyes of a Palestinian. We then moved on to Afghanistan, where Shabana Basij-Rasikh gave a motivating talk on her efforts to bring education to girls in her home country. Then we journeyed to Yemen, where Azd Al-Kadasi shared his view on what conferences such as RSIC could really achieve. Our very own Sari Samakie ’17 brought us up to Syria as he shared his incredible story of struggle and triumph through the multiple kidnappings he experienced. Nadine Toukan, a Jordanian filmmaker, discussed the power that youth hold in today’s society, one of love and imagination. And to bring our conference to an end, Jordan’s Prime Minister, Abdullah Ensour, sent off the delegates with a sense of the hospitality that Arabs have and the prospect of peace which they seek.
The delegates participated in various service activities, both on and off campus. While some planted, painted, and plastered in nearby schools, others reached out to the children in Key Club service projects, the Kursi wa Kitab initiative, and many other on-campus activities. Of course, all of their hard work was accompanied by hours of entertainment. On one evening, the cultural evening, delegates had the opportunity to share various performances from their respective cultures, including dance, song, and the occasional folklore. The next day, the King’s Academy community showed off its own talent during its entertainment evening, featuring the orchestra, the jazz band, Glee Club, dance troupes, the improvisation group, and much more. In addition to all of that, our very talented cast of thespians, directed by Mohammad Abu Hawwash ’15, presented an insight into the rich history of the Arab world.
Organizing this event, of course, was no easy task. We hit some bumps here and there, but with diligence and hard work on part of students, faculty, and staff alike, we overcame them. Not only did we succeed in running the conference, but we also succeeded, I believe, in sending a very powerful message to the delegates from around the world. I personally have received countless responses from many of the delegates, all of whom expressed nothing but praise and gratitude. Even before the end of the conference, delegates were sad to be leaving Jordan and King’s Academy. As my roommate packed his bags on the last day, he told me, “I really don’t want to leave this place.” Through the collective energies of our entire community—the hospitality of our students, the enthusiasm of our faculty, and the tireless efforts of our staff—we created an unforgettable experience that our guests will be able to carry with them, and share with those they come in contact with, for a lifetime.