Round Square International Conference

The recent Round Square International Conference (Virtual) was held online from 20–23 September, with over 1200 participants from 50 countries across the world participating.

Ten Radford students and three staff participated in the event, which was held on the Gather platform. Three Year 11 students share their experiences.

Global participation online
Global participation online

Leader reflection by Natalie Neshev, Year 11 student and Baraza Leader

Between September 20 and 23, a collection of Radford students attended the 2021 Virtual Round Square International Conference.

Each day addressed new issues. First, we spoke about brave conversations, then we commented on the intersection of inclusion and identity and how such issues are prevalent within our society. On the final two days, we talked about two issues that hold immense significance in the modern world: ethical leadership and climate change. Moreover, the conference had several guest keynote speakers who shared their own opinions on each of the topics, as well as fantastic avenues of thought for us to explore.

At the conference, three other students and I attended as hosts. This meant that we had to facilitate conversations and run a collection of activities. On each day of the conference, we joined into breakout groups and were able to hear opinions from all over the world, which was an incredible experience.

After several months of planning and training, these sessions were a huge success, and were an extremely valuable way to advocate for important global issues. In addition, the conference had an online platform on which we could interact and share ideas with other delegates. For example, we at Radford ran a Just Dance picnic blanket activity, where delegates were able to watch our epic pre-recorded dance moves on their own screens and get moving. We also enjoyed interactive games such as sudoku, Tetris, and other available platforms to connect and share ideas and aspects of our culture with people from all over the world. All four of us found that the conference was an extremely rewarding and educational experience. We made connections with so many amazing people and learnt so much about other areas of the world. We were so grateful to be a part of it, and it is definitely something we would recommend for the future.

Sharing a laugh

Delegate reflection by Annabelle Smith, Year 11 student

The four-day 2021 Virtual Round Square International Conference was an experience that broadened my view on the world, even if it was just from my bedroom.

Over the course of the conference, we heard a diverse range of speakers speak on cultural identity, inclusion, climate change and ethical leadership. The speakers were an amazing assortment of people qualified on a range of different current issues. It was great to hear their perspectives.

Throughout the conference we not only engaged in talks focussing on the four main topics, but we were able to converse with other groups from around the world about issues that we were passionate about. I found it really eye-opening to see how many of the issues we are facing in Canberra may also be reflected elsewhere in the world and how we may be able to adapt our living to better the impact on our future.

I particularly enjoyed discussing climate change and how the different schools and cultures have responded to the climate crisis, from hunting for and growing almost all their own food, to innovative ways to reduce water wastage. I found it enlightening to see the many different aspects we can approach in terms of sustainability. I loved the conference’s focus on ‘brave conversations’ and how that led to everyone’s opinions being equally valued and heard without judgement. This led to many conversations that challenged my preconceived ideas and I left feeling happier and more educated about global issues.

I would strongly recommend this experience to anyone who can participate – it was amazing, and I made many friends and learnt so much through it. I would like to also thank Ms Notley, our Baraza leaders and everyone else who contributed to such an amazing experience.

Online discussion
Online discussion

Delegate reflection by Georgia Chen, Year 11 student

The 2022 Virtual Round Square International Conference was an inspiring experience that brought young people together to truly connect and discuss global issues. Using the ‘Gather’ forum I was able to virtually meet other students from different countries including Tanzania, South Africa, Hong Kong, India, United Kingdom, South Korea and more.

Within the program we had the opportunity to have ‘brave conversations’ about cultural identity, inclusion, climate change and ethical leadership. These conversations were introduced by exceptional guest speakers, such as British television presenter and wheelchair basketball player Adedoyin Olayiwola Adepitan, and the World Health Organisation’s first Chief Scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan. The speakers would share their opinions and stories according to the topic and we would then continue these discussions in more depth through breakout rooms. Within our smaller groups we explored more current and controversial ideas including cultural appropriation, the impacts of social media, global warming in a capitalist society, activism vs. slacktivism and the importance of ethics.

A discussion that really stood out to me was the advantages and disadvantages of slacktivism, more specifically how social media has influenced people’s awareness of certain political and social events. The conference allowed me to be more exposed to different values and cultural differences in our world, but also allowed me to connect with other people through mutual interests and ideas. Personally, the impact of this virtual event has expanded past the duration of the four days, as I have created new relationships and have become more open-minded to how certain issues are perceived around the world. Through meaningful conversations and the engagement of global topics, this year’s Round Square International Conference was definitely an insightful and evocative experience.

View the Just Dance video, run by Radford students