Over the Term break I had the great pleasure of accompanying a delegation of students and staff to the 55th Round Square International Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
The experience kicked off with a pre-conference tour in Dubai. While in the UAE, students were exposed to historic Dubai and traditional Emirati culture, but also experienced the new Dubai- with its extensive development, modern architecture and luxury shopping.
The highlights of the pre-conference included learning about the Islamic religion by visiting a Mosque, being Adventurous by dune-bashing in a 4×4, and being hosted for a morning at The Millennium School (where the Aussies taught everyone how to do the Nutbush). The contrast between the old and the new, and the desert and the city, was striking.
After three days on the pre-conference tour, the conference itself kicked off in Nairobi. The conference was hosted by Brookhouse Schools across their two beautiful campuses. After a stunning Opening Ceremony, approximately 900 students at the conference rotated through a Service Day, a Democracy Day and an Adventure Day- all based around the conference theme, The New Africa.
The Democracy Day featured a panel of guest speakers, who spoke on the conference theme and inspired delegates to reconsider their views on Africa’s present and future. Baraza group discussions followed and allowed students to share their ideas, and also to make connections with a diverse group of students. These connections continued at the end of the day, when delegates headed off to stay with local Kenyan families. All of our students really enjoyed the opportunity to connect with Brookhouse families, and to get a taste of Nairobi home life.
The Service Day saw our group head off to three different Nairobi schools, where they undertook building projects such as concreting and painting. This was a really rewarding experience, in which delegates were able to see the difference they could make to some young Kenyans. The Service Day was a highlight for many students and our students excelled in this practical chance to embody Servant Leadership.
What is an African experience without a Safari? The Adventure Day gave the delegates a chance to connect with the African nature. During the day we undertook multiple safari experiences, and we were lucky enough to see Zebra, Giraffe, Rino, Crocodiles, Baboons, Impala and Tigers – just to mention a few. In the evening, the group experienced a traditional Maasai dance beside the fire before sleeping in tents under the African stars.
The conference concluded with Kenyan para-Olympian, Henry Wanyoike, sharing his story about perseverance, Courage and that he “lost my sight, but not my vision”. Finally, all the staff and student delegates were treated to a special dinner and disco where they listened and danced to Kenya’s most successful artist, Sauti Sol.
It was a life changing experience for all who experienced it and the students and staff have brought back many learnings to share over the coming weeks.