A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

Round Square - Edition 7 - 2019

‘Round Square’ in our Westminster Community

A large part of ‘Round Square’ IDEALS being successfully integrated in any school relies on community support and understanding. Thankfully, at Westminster, we have an amazing and supportive group of staff, parents and students who are always willing to expand their knowledge of the Round Square network and the benefits it can have for our school. I hope that through the information I provide in the eNews, I have been able to give some further clarification on what ‘Round Square’ means to us, and the role it plays in our lives at Westminster.

In this article, I have highlighted the IDEAL of Environmentalism and included information about what it means to be a host family for exchange students. We rely heavily on the extreme generosity of our school community to conduct exchanges and are always grateful for the love and care that our host families and boarding staff provide to our regional and international visitors.

Round Square Environmentalism Logo

What exactly is the Round Square IDEAL of ‘Environmentalism’ all about?

Highlighting this IDEAL of Round Square means talking about a topic that is very relevant to all of us, the Environment. At Westminster, students are taught the importance of tending to the future of the planet. Round Square students are expected to demonstrate an active interest and concern for all natural environments, to be aware of proven problems and to play a practical role in tackling environmental issues. They are taught the fine balance and interdependence needed to maintain a healthy relationship between human beings and the planet. Special programmes, work projects and curricula all emphasise each young person’s destiny to be a guardian of human society and the global environment.

Student trimming a hedge

Westminster School has been very active in recycling paper, food scraps, cans and bottles and continues to bring this issue to the fore with our school community. Students have been involved in the past with tree planting programs, working bees, as well as contributing their time at the Monarto Zoo. They have also been active in Clean up Australia and we currently have a driven and passionate ‘Environmental Action Group’, coordinated by Ms Rachel Abercrombie, which meets regularly in the Senior School to discuss issues and implement a variety of environmental ideas.

Taken from the Round Square website: www.roundsquare.org

‘A spirit of environmentalism centres on the significance of understanding mankind’s place in the universe, the forces that shape our surroundings and the impact we have on those surroundings. A systems-based appreciation of the interdependence between human beings and the planet highlights the fine balance needed to make that relationship a healthy one.

In addition, mindfulness in connecting with the surrounding world underpins a peace and ease with natural cycles. This creates a connected appreciation for the beauty, complexity and fragility of the environment which often inspires creative expression - landscape painting, photography, poetry, creative writing.

A person living out a spirit of Environmentalism takes practical action in tackling issues of sustainability. They question and challenge any practices that impact negatively on the environment. They seek solutions and make suggestions as to how practices can be improved, and consideration of the environmental impact of every-day activity is second-nature.

An active interest in, and concern for, all environments develops awareness and understanding known issues. This leads to a recognition of the importance of tending to the future of the planet, protecting and preserving threatened habitats and creating sustainable communities. Ultimately, through discovering a spirit of environmentalism, each young person accepts and prepares for their destiny to be a future guardian of human society and the global environment.’

RSIS 2020 – Madagascar (Environmental Project)

A group of lemurs

Round Square International Service Project
Dates: Saturday 11 to Saturday 25 July 2020
Price: Participation fee £1180 plus flights
Location: Sainte Luce, Madagascar

About the Project:

This RSIS Environmental Project will take place in July 2020 and will see a team of 15 Round Square Students and Adults working with a local community in Sainte Luce, Madagascar. This environmental project will typically involve time conducting research in the forest, helping with ‘Conservation Club’, where local children learn the importance of conserving the environment, teaching basic English to the children, and also attending a series of evening talks from staff members. Research activities may include:

  • Lemur transect which involves walking through a pre-determined fragment of forest and, once spotted, recording critical data such as the number and sex of the lemurs and observing their behaviour;
  • Reptile transect;
  • Tree nursery work;
  • Botanical monitoring and habitat data; and
  • Herpetology sweeps.
An orange lemur peering around a tree

Character development:

This service experience offers students a fantastic personal development opportunity. Students will return home with new skills, greater confidence, a fresh attitude and a new perspective gained through experiencing a taste of life in Madagascar, and an insight into international development, through first-hand experience.

Participants will take it in turns to be student leaders during the project, taking responsibility for the organisation of the day, briefing their peers, giving an overview of safety and risk management and organising a student rota to help with different chores at camp. Students will be given feedback by their peers and the adult leaders, and will all receive a personal report after the trip.

All participants will:

  • Have the opportunity to lead a truly international team;
  • Deepen their spirit of Environmentalism;
  • Develop their problem solving, presentation, facilitating and communication skills;
  • Grow in self-confidence, personal responsibility and self-awareness; and
  • Test and hone their management and negotiation skills.

Taken from the Round Square website (www.roundsquare.org)

People covered in various country flags

What does it mean to be a ‘Host Family’?

An extract from our ‘Exchange Students Handbook’

Honest and consistent communication is the key to a successful and enriching Student Exchange/Host Family experience. Although every effort will be made to partner an Exchange Student and a Host Family using both sensitivity and sensibility, one cannot control every aspect of the international exchange experience. To ensure that there are no “surprises”, an early commitment to honest communication should be the responsibility for both parties.

The following guidelines may help to ensure that all parties involved enjoy the exchange experience.

  1. Communicate your family’s expectations of the Exchange Student clearly at the beginning of their stay. In fact, you will have access to their contact information weeks, if not months, before their actual arrival. I recommend early communication via email or Facebook or by phone be made a high priority. They will be living in your home and your rules apply. Let them know what you expect in terms of tidiness, laundry, meal times, internet use, water conservation and so on. You may also find it helpful to find out what they hope to achieve while staying with you.
  2. Communicate your family’s curfew time before they arrive. It is recommended that Exchange Students not be allowed to attend parties or go out late during the week. Your visitor is here on an Academic/Cultural Exchange and is therefore expected to be actively involved, as much as possible, in school-based, community-based and homework activities.
  3. Provide nutritious meals for the Exchange Student, as you do for your own child(ren). If they are unaccustomed to your food, encourage them to help you with the shopping and to find a mutually acceptable solution. Please be sensitive and make provisions for any food allergies, religious observances and/or foods that may be unacceptable to their religion, culture and so on. Once again, early communication with the Exchange Student and their family will ensure that no one’s culture and/or religious beliefs or practices are insulted, ignored or disrespected.
  4. Please pay for your Exchange Student when they are invited to join your family to dine in a restaurant or go out with you. It is not expected, however, that you buy expensive items or pay for extra-curricular activities, such as music lessons, school trips and so on, as this is their responsibility and has been made clear to them.
  5. It is recommended that, prior to the Exchange Student’s arrival; you discuss any boundaries regarding Spending Money that their family might have. Clear boundaries and communication of what is regarded as ‘essential’ would be beneficial. Families are encouraged to set limits which suit their means.
  6. Exchange Students are required to have medical insurance. A copy of their Medical Insurance details should be provided to you on their arrival. For minor expenses, they are expected to pay the costs of these as they use them.
  7. At Westminster School, we do not require a financial deposit to be held with the school. Exchange students are required to have a credit card or a debit card which they can use for recurring and any unforeseen expenses. They are expected to pay for any of these expenses. A few days prior to departure, they need to settle any expenses that they have accrued with the school.
  8. Safekeeping of passport, travel documents and money should be discussed with the Exchange Student upon arrival. It is recommended that you keep the passport and travel documents in a secure location.
  9. Host Families are responsible for meeting Exchange Students at the airport and for taking them to the airport when their stay is over. The Round Square and Exchanges Co-ordinator will also be there when possible.
  10. As this is a Cultural Exchange as well, it would be greatly appreciated if you and your family were to organize day or weekend excursions to our many places of historical, cultural and/or natural interest around Adelaide and perhaps parts of South Australia. This is your family’s opportunity to ‘show off’ all that our beautiful state has to offer, who knows, you might just learn something new as well!
  11. If you are ever in doubt about the suitability of anything regarding the safety, health and/or welfare of your Exchange Student, please contact their family directly to discuss the options and/or actions, as well as the Round Square and Exchanges Co-ordinator. All contact information will be provided to you well in advance of your Exchange Student’s arrival. Any and all decisions should be taken with the family’s consent and the school should be informed.
  12. To ensure the safety of the Exchange Student, and protect your own liability, please facilitate any transportation needs that they might have for the duration of their exchange.
  13. Exchange Students are required to wear their own school uniform as is expected by their school’s Dress Code for the duration of their stay. If their school has no school uniform, then the expectation is that they will wear Westminster School uniform, which is available for loan through the Uniform Shop at no cost, although they will need to provide their own shoes and socks in compliance with our Uniform Code. When you are able to determine their needs and sizes, we ask that you collect their uniform in advance, ready for their first day. We also ask that it is returned clean to the Uniform Shop as soon as possible after departure.
  14. Finally, this exchange experience is as much for the Exchange Student as it is for you and your family. Take this extraordinary opportunity to learn more about your Exchange Student’s culture, traditions, history, people, religions, languages, music, food, ethnicity, dress/attire, holidays/religious days and so on. Perhaps they could prepare a traditional meal from their culture one evening? Maybe everyone could celebrate one of their religious days/holidays? How about learning a traditional craft or learn a song from their culture? The ideas are truly endless, just be creative.

A Final Note

I cannot stress enough that every international exchange is unique with every Host Family and Exchange Student having their own personalities, with both positives and negatives. Although the object of the programme is to have an educational/cultural exchange where the interaction promotes understanding and personal development, there may be times when a ‘little personal space’ may be a welcome break. Providing an Exchange Student with their own bedroom where they can keep their personal items and have personal time in a private space can ensure that all members of your family don’t feel that the experience is overwhelming or too intense.

I hope that you, your family and your Exchange Student all have a rich and positive experience which can often lead to lifelong friendships as you ‘celebrate the differences’!

Round Square Website Reminder!

One of my main goals over the past three years has been to spread the understanding of Round Square further afield and ensure our Westminster community has a great knowledge of how this can benefit us all. The Round Square website is easy to access and students can log in using the information below. Just click on ‘Login’ in the top right hand corner of the website to begin - www.roundsquare.org

Username: Students
Password: DiscoverMore

Upcoming Conferences and Events 2019/2020

  • RSIS – Borneo, Saturday 7 to Friday 20 December 2019
  • RSIS – Madagascar, Saturday 11 to Saturday 25 July 2020
  • RSIS – Laos, Saturday 11 to Friday 24 July 2020
  • Round Square Global Conference for ages 12 to 13 at St Mary’s Colchester, UK from Monday 29 June to Friday 3 July 2020 "Our past, your future - conservation in action”. (Would need at least four to five students to go ahead and is dependent on regional interest first). *please note: this conference falls in our school holidays
  • Round Square Regional Conference for ages 13 to 15 at Cheongshim International Academy, South Korea from Saturday 14 to Thursday 19 March 2020, “Reverence for the Past, Aspirations for the future” (During Term 1)
  • Round Square Global Conference for ages 15 to 18 at Elaraki School, Morocco from Wednesday 12 to Monday 17 February 2020, “Future is Now”; (Would only go ahead if numbers greater than four students and dependent on Regional interest, during Term 1)
  • Round Square Global Conference for ages 16 to 18 at Craighouse School, Chile from Wednesday 1 to Tuesday 7 April 2020, "A Generation Raising Together” (Would only go ahead if numbers greater than four students and dependent on Regional interest, during Term 1)
  • Round Square International Conference ages 16 to 18, Australia (Melbourne, Ballarat and Launceston), end of September 2020 (places for five students to attend, during Term 3)
  • Brookhouse School, Tokyo, Japan – Sports focus conference prior to the Summer Olympics, to be held around July/end of Term 2, Age group: possibly 13-15 (awaiting further information)

*Please note, all conference opportunities are dependent on global and regional requirements and our own student interest, it is not financially viable to send a group smaller than 3 or 4 for most of these. Global conferences are now open up to all Round Square schools and schools in that particular region are given first chance to register.

For further information on Round Square, our initiatives, exchanges, or conferences, please contact me via Email.

Julia Chukwuani
Round Square and Exchanges Coordinator