I would like to again take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you new to the Westminster community. My name is Julia Chukwuani and I am the Round Square and Exchanges Coordinator at Westminster. I have been working in this role since 2017 and have had the pleasure of organising many Exchanges, Conferences and other opportunities for our students here at Westminster. Although I work primarily in the Senior School, I do also try to spend some time with our younger students and guide them in their understanding of Round Square and how they can best utilise the opportunities on offer.
As many of you may already be aware, I have been teaching German at Westminster since the start of 2013. What you may not be aware of is that prior to this, I spent almost four years living and working in Switzerland. I lived in a small town, in close proximity to Lake Constance, directly on the border of Germany and Switzerland. During this time, I was not only able to develop my skills and networks as a language teacher and coordinator, but I was able to see just how important global communication really is. Communicating in several different languages is quite the norm in a place like Switzerland and it is in this I experienced how vital it is for us all to be able to effectively relate to others on an international scale.
Through Round Square, Westminster offers a variety of ‘global’ and ‘local’ opportunities by way of Exchanges, a vast number of Service and Leadership Projects and Experiential Learning. We aim to develop our students’ potential to ensure they will be well-rounded global citizens who contribute positively to our ever-changing world.
I have included some more information below, which explains the ‘Spirit’ of Round Square in more detail. Should you have any questions about Round Square initiatives at Westminster, please feel free to contact me anytime via Email.
For those of you new to Westminster, you may be wondering what exactly is ‘Round Square’?. We hear this term thrown about quite a lot but often people don’t fully understand the extent to which this shapes a significant part of our Westminster community.
Round Square owes much to the heritage of Kurt Hahn, who founded two of the original member schools, Schule Schloss Salem (pictured below) in Germany, with Prince Max of Baden, and Gordonstoun in Scotland.
Both schools committed to equipping youth for leadership and service in a democracy by helping them to prepare for life despite hardships, dangers, and emotion of the moment.
In 1966, King Constantine of the Hellenes, a former pupil of Anavryta, chaired a meeting of the first seven schools that would form the new association, later named after the Round Square building at Gordonstoun, where the first conference took place in 1967.
Kurt Hahn was a German educator and a key figure in the development of experiential education. To this day his philosophies have far-reaching international influence that has stood the test of time.
Hahn believed that students could only really understand life by experiencing it in many exciting and challenging ways. By testing themselves, students would be able to develop their courage, generosity, imagination, principles and resolution. Ultimately they would develop the skills and abilities to become the guardians and leaders of the future.
He also believed that the greatest thing one could learn – and inspire in others – was compassion. Inspired by this principle, the Round Square network of schools share practical opportunities to guide and support students in becoming courageous and compassionate leaders. Kurt Hahn’s philosophies also founded Outward Bound and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Program.
‘There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less’
Westminster can be very proud to be one of a growing number of schools in Australia to be part of the international network of schools known as ‘Round Square’.
With over 150 Round Square schools worldwide we are united in a commitment to delivering a genuinely all-round education. ‘Round Square’ schools are of the belief we have a responsibility not just to help students achieve academic success, but also to help them develop into well-rounded individuals who not only possess sound life skills but will make positive and long lasting contributions to our global community.
The ‘Round Square’ approach is underpinned by the IDEALS philosophy:
At Westminster, we try hard to ensure these IDEALS are woven into everything that we do, both curricular and co-curricular. Our student involvement in Round Square Exchanges, Conferences and Service Projects has continued to be high and it is an absolute pleasure to watch how students grow in confidence as they take advantage of the many opportunities on offer to them. For more information on the IDEALS of ‘Round Square’ please go to www.roundsquare.org
By Tamsin Conway (Year 12 Jeffries)
Between Friday 6 and Friday 20 December 2019, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to venture to Borneo, Malaysia for the Round Square, Big Build Project. This was no holiday what so ever, instead it was a working ‘holiday’ that included constructing a building for an orphanage with a few rest days in between, in the village of Tambunan.
I had the chance to put my skills and leadership to the test whilst putting me out of my comfort zone when completing tasks. No task was easy, yet no task wasn’t achievable. The goal for this project was to construct a building within the orphanage which included hard labour, a lot of strength and patience. Being the only person from my school made it a bit confronting a first, meeting people from all around the world. There were people from far and wide, with students coming from South Africa, Germany, India, Nepal, Kenya, England, Canada and of course Australia.
Throughout the trip there were plenty of conversations about what it’s like to live in each of our countries, and many arguments about who says which word correctly. The working days were either long or short depending on the weather conditions, which could either be heavily raining or hot and humid. These work days included carrying bricks, cement and aggregate bags, mixing cement with shovels, digging holes and shovelling out dirt and debris. It is no lie when I say it was challenging, although it was very rewarding especially when we got to play with the kids from the orphanage at break times.
After each day we would all be mucky with muddy clothes and our shoes were covered with cement. We had to quickly adapt to the different lifestyle with having cold bucket showers each day and hand washing our clothes. Food was provided to us each day with consistent meals of rice and noodles. You can imagine after two weeks we were all sick of eating it, although we were very grateful to try the local food. We had the chance to immerse ourselves in the culture by going to local markets, singing Christmas carols with the local choir, going to a waterfall and also an island where we got to go snorkelling. Each day we were woken up by the chickens and barking dogs, yet if you were an early riser like me you had the opportunity to go for a run or walk around the village and would sometimes cross paths with water buffaloes. The local dogs would always follow us, whether it would be on the work site or at the orphanage and so the students named them and grew to be quite fond of them. I grew very close to one dog in particular and we called him Jack.
My fondest memories of this trip were not only the friendships I made but also the times we spent together making bracelets in our dorms, being together during the activity nights and playing footy or soccer. Whilst it did not seem like we built a lot, we actually saved the builders at least a month’s work. We were all extremely proud of ourselves and were very emotional when we all started to leave. This experience was definitely the trip of lifetime, something I will never forget!
Following the publication of Round Square research into Global Competence and International Understanding, I am pleased to share a recent article, “Nurturing a Global Mind” by Harvard Usable Knowledge. Read their summary of the research findings and recommendations at the link below. Very interesting reading indeed!
Exchanges can take many different forms and some of this depends on what a student is looking to gain from their experience. At Westminster, we offer both regional and international exchanges with other Round Square schools, all of varying lengths. We also promote the SA German exchange for our students of German (run through Concordia College). Information for this exchange usually comes out around March each year. It is designed mostly for Year 10 students who are currently studying the German language.
The best thing about participating in a student exchange at Westminster is that you can have a great deal of choice about what suits you best, with regard to timing and location. Many students come and see me with just an idea of a country they would like to go to and from there we make contact with other Round Square schools and use these connections to set up valuable experiences for our students. Although there is never an absolute guarantee a placement will be found, we will do our absolute best to try to make it happen!
The majority of international exchanges at Westminster tend to happen around Year 10 and 11 but we have previously organised many regional exchanges for our younger Year 8 students. I strongly encourage our students to begin the process early though as there is a lot more involved in going on an Exchange than just deciding you want to go!
We are pleased to have several exchange students join us in Term 1 at Westminster in the Senior School. This term our Exchange students come from Germany and Canada, however we will have other students joining us later in the year from several other countries. I will announce these and our Outgoing Exchange students in future eNews articles. Having Exchange students be part of our school and Westminster families can only serve to enhance our global mindedness and cultural understanding further. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the following students to Westminster:
Veronica (Ronnie) Morabito from Collingwood School, Canada - hosted by Bailey Kramer (Year 11 Heaslip)
Ona Reinoso Serra from Salem School, Germany - hosted by Rommy Snoad (Year 10 Kelly)
Carl Schreiber from Stiftung Louisenlund School, Germany - hosted by Oscar Ranford (Year 10 Clark)
Helena Getz from the SA German Exchange Program, Germany - hosted by Lily Peard (Year 10 Fricker)
Kate McDougall from Collingwood School, Canada - hosted by Dana Wright (Year 11 Forder)
Katie Lustig from Collingwood School, Canada - hosted by Brooke Kleinig (Year 11 Fricker)
Some things to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks:
For further information on Round Square, our initiatives, exchanges, or conferences, please contact me via Email.
Round Square and Exchanges Coordinator