Keep an Open Mind, Try New Things and Enjoy the Adventure

day-838784_960_720If there’s one thing we, as high school students, hear more than anything else, it’s the questions: So, where do you see yourself in a couple years? Or, What do you want to study when you graduate?

And if there’s one thing we feel more than anything, it’s overwhelming guilt when we are unable to come up with a solid answer to these questions.

You see, high school is the time to discover what you enjoy most. It’s the time for “personal adventure”.

Personal adventure can mean infinitely different things to different people. In fact, the words themselves only mean whatever you want them to.

Perhaps, for you, personal adventure could mean taking part in that annual March Break trip you’ve been hearing about for the past couple of years. Maybe it means standing up at Model UN or debating and speaking in front of a crowd. Or maybe it’s simply just raising your hand in class to make your ideas heard.

No matter what it means to you, high school offers you a unique chance to create your own little adventures. We won’t again be lucky enough to have so many opportunities placed in front of us while having so few responsibilities.

Because personal adventure is more than just enjoying the time we have here to the fullest. It’s more complicated than saying carpe diem. It presents the opportunity to discover not only what we actually want out of life, but why we want it and how we’ll get there.

There was a point in my high school career where I hadn’t realized the importance of these little adventures. In fact, I had planned my entire life out for the next two decades. That’s longer than any of us students have been alive.

In grade 2, I saw the movie Nim’s Island and decided that I wanted nothing more than to become a marine biologist. I was so sold on this idea that by the time I reached Middle School, I had a list of my top universities planned out. Then, grade 9 rolled around along with a year-long biology unit in science. I then realized how little I enjoyed the topic (sorry Ms. Commerford). So then, what was I supposed to do? These plans I had made to last a lifetime had suddenly fallen apart in a matter of months and I felt lost. Although we may feel confident in our own judgement, it’s impossible to know what we will enjoy before we have enjoyed it.

The thing I realized then is that excessive planning for your future takes an excessive amount of time; it leaves you with a one-track mind that is wholly closed off to new ideas and experiences.

The second I realized I no longer knew what I wanted to do was also the second I began to try new things. I signed up for every club, eager to see what I had been missing. I found a love for Model UN and politics, realized how much fun physics was and took every opportunity I was given to travel to new places.

When I was locked in to biology, I stopped myself from straying too far from it. Why waste my time doing things that won’t help my future career? And I’m not advocating for you to join a club to pad your resume. I’m asking you to not be defined by your future plans.

Because, in the end, that’s what high school is for. high school isn’t here for us to already know how our life is going to roll out for the next 20 or 30 years. High school is here for us to try new things, go on wild trips, meet new people and make life-changing memories.

So enjoy the time you have here. The future may seem infinitely brighter than the present but along the way there will be spots of darkness. And when you’re fighting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of those dark places, you must be able to look back and feel the warmth of the memories you forged to help you get through it, not the pressure of exhaustive plans that were born out of the illusion that they would save you.

To those who don’t know what you want to do in the future, you’re not alone. To those who do, I trust your judgement, and I know that you will find success and happiness in whatever you choose. – Emma Belhadfa ’18

A Moving Inaugural Event at the RSIC

2017_2018_RSIC2017_SA_0052017_2018_RSIC2017_SA_006On the first morning of the Round Square Conference, we headed to the Cape Town International Convention Centre to take part in the Opening Ceremonies. Our delegation, along with many others from around the world, was very excited for the inauguration of the conference.

Once everyone had been seated, a group of three musicians came on stage with some odd-looking instruments. Using only her actions and no words, the leader of the group instructed us to reach under our seat where we were all surprised to find a tube with a wooden stick. The audience then began copying the musicians’ rhythms and joined them in a couple of neat patterns. My favourite part was when we were instructed to each play a different beat depending on where we were sitting in the auditorium. Every section’s tube produced a different sound and we united with our separate rhythms to create a beautiful song. It was lots of fun and a great way to get us excited for the rest of the ceremony.

Another part of the ceremony that I really enjoyed was the presentation of the flags. One by one, every school was called and a student walked across the stage holding their flag. I thought this was very interesting since every school had something that was unique and different. Some of the uniforms were particular to the region they were from, while others had different emblems and flags that didn’t at all resemble the others. It was also a special moment when the name Lower Canada College was said out loud and our flag was proudly walked across the stage.

The rest of the ceremony was filled with different cultural performances by the host schools, award presentations and a couple speeches, but none was as memorable as His Majesty King Constantine’s speech. The current president and one of the earliest members of the organization, King Constantine attended the ceremony and we were fortunate enough to hear him speak. However, when he started speaking about Round Square, he began to choke up and shed a few tears. This was a truly touching moment for everyone in the audience and it was at this moment that I realized the full extent of Round Square’s influence and the power that it possesses to bring together people from all four corners of the world who share the same values.

Overall, I felt very lucky to have been in that auditorium for the Opening Ceremonies and I think that it was a phenomenal way to kick off the festivities. – Andrew Fata ’19

Savannah Safari: A Trip of a Lifetime

IMG_6161Once we returned to our camp, we left for the next one. On the drive, we saw a cheetah and a baby cheetah lying together, which was very cute. When we arrived, we saw baboons and a warthog walking by, completely unfazed that we were there. In the afternoon, we went on a game drive. We were so excited because we finally found elephants! After spotting many more animals, we went to the hyena den and found a couple of them lying outside. After watching them for a while, we went back to our camp, had dinner and went to sleep.

The following morning, we saw many more animals on our game drive and left for our fourth and final camp. We learned that in the whole area there are only eight male lions. No wonder it had been hard to find them! At the camp, we sat around the fire for a while altogether, played cards and eventually went to sleep in our tents.

On September 29th, we woke up at 5 am, packed our bags and left Botswana. All of us agreed that we were sorry to leave, but that we couldn’t wait for the conference to start! Overall, we learned so much on the trip about the wildlife in the Savannah. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime!  — Danielle Cutler ’18 and Meghan Fersten ’18






Hands-on Learning at Tuli Wilderness, Botswana

IMG_1924After a flight to Frankfurt where we had a 12-hour layover, another long flight to Johannesburg and a seven-hour bus ride, we, and seven other students arrived in Botswana on September 25th to commence our adventurous journey in the Savannah. During the jeep ride to our destination called Tuli Wilderness, we were in shock when we saw zebras on the side of the road. That made us realize that we were truly in Africa! When we arrived at our camp, we were all exhausted after our 48 hours of travel, but our night was not over. We had a quick dinner and bonded at the campfire with the two other schools that we would be spending the next few days with. We then went to bed in our cabins, listening to all kinds of different animals outside, while once again amazed by where we were in the world!

The following morning, we woke up at 5:30 am to have a quick breakfast and go on our first game drive. We saw so many animals including wildebeests, impalas, kudus, crocodiles, guinea fowl and hyenas! We got out of the truck multiple times to get a closer look at footprints and animal tracks. We also learned many interesting facts from the tour guides about all the animals we saw.

Once we returned from the game drive we left for our second camp. Since it was very hot in the middle of the day, the animals did not come out so we stayed at camp and played card games, continuing to bond with the other schools. Finally in the afternoon, we left for our second game drive. This time, in addition to the animals we saw in the morning, we also saw giraffes! Once the sun had set, we had dinner in an open area in the middle of the Savannah and it was beautiful. That night, we slept in tents in a fairly open area. Our guides told us that it is common for elephants and lions to walk through the campsite during the night. It was a little scary!  Danielle Cutler ’18 and Meghan Fersten ’18




More is Less

MakingChoicesHow much is enough? How much of anything is enough? This is an interesting question that we all face every day in many different ways as we make many, many choices.

That said, we live in a society where it is generally considered that more of anything is better. In some ways, this has been a foundational element of our capitalist democracy – more is better. Is it really?

Well, a leading American psychologist by the name of Barry Schwartz has conducted significant research on exactly this. What he has found is that while society pushes for more and more choice, at a certain point, too much choice actually paralyzes us. Dr. Schwartz has surveyed thousands of people on this topic. In his recent book “Escape from Freedom” and an earlier book “The Paradox of Choice,” Dr. Schwartz concludes that we all need parameters and constraints to direct, enable and support us with a sense of order. So how much freedom is enough?

Through his research, Dr. Schwartz believes he can categorize most people into two main categories; “Maximizers” & “Satisficers.” Consider which category you fall into.

Maximizers want the best at all times and tend to suffer from stress because any given choice made may not be the best. Let’s make this concrete. Sally is shopping for a used sedan and has narrowed it down to three auto companies. However, the reality of shopping these days means that Sally has access to several auto dealerships around the city, many specialized used-car operations and hundreds of online points of sale where specific options on the specific car, mileage and price-point vary enormously. According to Dr. Schwartz, for Sally, the “Maximizer,” this situation is a bottomless pit of endless choices. Clearly, for her to be certain that she has truly found THE BEST deal is almost impossible. Like most “maximizers” who endlessly search for the very best deal, choice can paralyze her. So, Sally will be inclined to suffer and perhaps even become burdened and depressed from the process. Her quest for the perfect car weighs heavily on her, along with the many other choices she is making every day in other areas of her life. Unfortunately, Sally is rarely certain she has found the very best option out there.

The other group according to Schwartz, are the “Satisficers,” people who are generally content with good enough. They don’t want to settle for anything second-rate, but they are more inclined to shed stress around choice, whether it be deciding on a new car, a cell phone, a new garment, career direction, whatever requires thought and choice.

So, boiled down, what is Dr. Schwartz’ advice? Essentially, he suggests that we don’t let choice rule our lives and we should avoid being “Maximizers.”

So choose when to choose and make arbitrary rules to help guide you. For example, limit yourself to three stores or three websites when shopping – and when you’re done, be satisfied with good enough and simply move on. Do this more often and you will probably feel better because most people are quite content with limited options. Remember, more can be less and actually harm our emotional health. So recognize when you’re being negatively impacted by a quest for perfection and replace it with good enough. You’ll probably be happier. And yes, that matters. – Christopher Shannon (Pre-U’76), Headmaster