Head’s Blog: Millennials as Global Citizens

RSlogo-smallRecently, I attended the Heads’ and Reps’ Annual Regional Meeting (ARM) of Round Square. Our membership includes a diverse group of 40 schools across the Americas, which comprises Canada, USA, Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America. In addition to planning and dialogue between schools, we also ask ourselves: what impact are our global education programs having on our students longer term?

One of our conference sessions included presentations and dialogue involving two impressive young adults formerly from Palmer Trinity, the host school in Miami. The two engaging twenty-something alumni addressed the topic of millennials as global citizens. Their perspectives were certainly interesting and noteworthy.

Andrea is a Mexican-American who graduated a year ago from Harvard and is on a coveted Fulbright Scholarship this year. She works directly with young marginalized Latino immigrants in the USA, many of them known as “DACA Dreamers”: born in the USA, but children of undocumented immigrants. There are approximately one million so-called dreamers across the country. They are currently under the threat of deportation by the Trump administration, which is the focus of much negotiation between Republican and Democratic leaders. In fact, this is the central issue that led to disagreements on funding several weeks ago and the subsequent two-day shutdown of the federal government due to a budget impasse.

The other student, Dax, is a Colombian-American who had lived in five South American countries before landing at Palmer Trinity in Miami for high school. He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. He noted that while living in Brazil as a boy, he witnessed horrendous environmental conditions in major cities, including raw sewage openly running down steep slopes into peoples’ homes, and serious pollution in the harbour of Rio de Janeiro. His concern for the environment led to the creation of an organization called the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES), which has inspired thousands of youth around the world to stand up and act on ways to improve the ways we treat, protect and conserve our precious oceans.

These young adults were clearly excellent students, but they also possessed more than just classroom smarts. During and following high school, they have been passionately engaged in social and environmental causes beyond traditional schooling.

In fact, both Andrea and Dax thanked their school for providing meaningful global opportunities that challenged their norms, their perspectives and day-to-day experiences. This included foreign exchanges, service opportunities and classes, such as the study of Buddhism that delved into the true meaning of compassion and empathy. They reiterated that these experiences today form the primary lasting and impactful memories of their high school years. They insisted that experiential and activity-based learning helped create more meaning and relevance for them as teens, which has stayed with them as they have grown older.

They remarked that those global experiences as students were also key in their personal development, as they helped expose them to difference and allowed them to see people as different, but equal. They expressed concern that in society at large these days, too many young people don’t really know much about people who are very different in terms of socio-economic class and life experience. Andrea was moved by an experience while at Palmer Trinity and on exchange in France. It was the simple fact that her exchange host in a public high school in France could never afford to go to a cinema for a movie unless she worked as a babysitter. This wasn’t Andrea’s experience, living an upper middle-class life in South Florida – it was a bit of a wake-up call.

Andrea and Dax reiterated that they are committed to service and improving their communities. Ultimately, they shared that true service is about people, and how to help those who are marginalized and on the fringes. Dax noted that perspective matters a lot and Palmer Trinity school helped him challenge his perspectives. Yet, he is concerned that information is now being disseminated online in a manner that is very targeted and divisive – so-called fake news, a development that is both important and dangerous.

There is a lot of talk these days about a “Facebook bubble”; only connecting with people like you online, sheltered from true diversity in rest of the world. Last week, I asked our students if they live in such a bubble? How and when are their views, values and priorities fundamentally challenged? Do they actually seek different perspectives, or are they living under the illusion that they can simply wait and start to do so when they get older?

It was powerful to see confident young adults – “millennials” – remark on what has had the most profound influence on their lives, their character and their priorities. It was a great reminder that embedding global experiences shouldn’t wait. Our students should feast on all the global opportunities afforded them because the lasting impact will be significant. Next fall’s Round Square International Conference theme is Bring Your Difference. My advice to students is that they should begin to seek and invite more difference into their lives now and they will certainly be richer for it. – Christopher Shannon, Headmaster


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

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




Head’s Blog: Four Flags

IMG_0789If you walk by the front door of LCC’s main school building, you will note that we proudly fly four flags: Canada, Québec, LCC and Round Square. The final one requires some consideration. Although we are a member of many school associations, Round Square is more than a membership; it represents an ethos that underscores our approaches to education. Why is this significant?

Round Square is a global association of nearly 200 schools inspired by Kurt Hahn, an influential educator in Europe pre-WWII. He was a visionary who believed that it is concrete experiences beyond the classroom that have the most profound impact on student growth. Even in the 1930s, he was concerned about what he called “decays” in youth, especially regarding compassion, curiosity and the potential toxicity of entitlement. Hahn was adamant that the adolescent mind was too focused on the self and needed to be shaken and challenged by active learning experiences.

All Round Square schools dedicate time and attention to what have become key areas of focus, the RS IDEALS. This represents a commitment to Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service. These foundational elements exist in all Round Square schools, from Canada to India to Thailand and Argentina, but always interpreted through a local lens.

If one looks at the Round Square flag, the organization’s name is there, but it is off centre, quite intentionally. A key objective of the Round Square ethos is to provide experiences that challenge students’ norms. When grappling with new ideas or experiences, students do broaden and shift their perspectives, preparing them to be more competent and confident global citizens.

During the past decade, membership in Round Square has had a significant impact on LCC students and our school. Through thoughtful discussion and a wide array of concrete experiences (international exchanges, conferences, service, leadership training) students have grown and developed in ways that are profound and lasting.

So now we are ready to welcome the world. In late September of 2018, LCC will host the Round Square International Conference, inviting approximately 450 student and adult delegates from 65-70 schools from around the world. Under the thematic banner of “Bring Your Difference”, together we will investigate the meaning and importance of diversity in today’s world. For a full week, our extended school community will come together to act as hosts and we look forward to everyone’s contribution. Reflect on this next time you walk by our four flags. Perhaps the concrete experience will push us all a little off centre and we will surely be the better for it!

Round Square Regional Conference: Learning to Be My Best Self

RS_ArgentinaThe Round Square Regional Conference of the America’s at Belgrano Day School sadly came to an end on April 25, 2017 – too fast for everyone participating in the conference.

Round Square is something that I have always had an interest in. Its philosophy of uniting six diverse IDEALS (International, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership, Service) into one way of life is unique and definitely something that I wanted to be a part of.

I found out about this conference in Argentina a year ago. I remember having a good feeling about it and instantly wanting to go. After talking to students who had just came back from the conference in LA, I knew that it was something for me. The experiences they had and the lessons they learnt about being well-rounded powerful leaders were ones that I too wanted to embrace. Never did I think that my decision to go would have had such a positive impact on me.

Argentina, even though it is troubled in certain political, economic and social sectors, has a special and unique thing about it that is quite hard to find – a positive environment/atmosphere. From the moment I entered the doors of Belgrano Day School, not once was I subjected to negative energy. Everyone and everything gave off positive energy, fuelling everyone’s happiness throughout the week. Friendships were started with a laugh, hardships were overcome with a hug and tears came purely from laughing too hard. This helped change the conference from being great to being amazing.

During the conference, the delegates had the opportunity to embrace whatever was thrown their way due to the positive and supportive environment of the conference. From the workshops and Ben Walden’s amazing speech to Techo and the Photo Safari Day, these experiences brought us together and taught us about leadership, service and responsibility. They showed us the importance of teamwork and dedication. Techo was truly an eye-opening experience. In the short time we spent there, my barazza and I pooled our efforts to create the base of the house we were constructing. The family it was going to was one that consisted of three lovely ladies – a mother and her two daughters. At the end of the day, even though we were all physically drained, I will never forget the smile on those two little girls’ faces as they ran across the elevated floor. It made every second and every bit of sweat worth it. Their happiness was all we needed to come together and create something life changing for those humble and nice people we got to volunteer for.

My experience went above and beyond the lessons learnt about the IDEALS. I have to admit that this trip was the first one I was experiencing alone. At first, I was slightly scared because I was travelling to South America, a continent so far from home, a place I never thought of visiting. On the day of the opening ceremony, Mr. Page, the former headmaster of Belgrano Day School, made everyone feel welcome by beginning his speech accompanied by four teddy bears. The four teddy bears represented a hug for anyone who was homesick. I thought I would be one of those people needing a teddy to hug. Instead, the opposite happened. In Argentina, I never felt more at home. It’s culture and way of life is very similar to my own as I am part Italian. Right from the beginning, starting with my amazing host family, the Alonsos, I was welcomed with a hug and a huge smile. They were truly one of a kind. They share strong family values and traditions like my own family and the respect they have for each other and others is an example. I felt like I was with my family in Italy and in Montreal. My host family, with their loveable personalities, made my stay in Argentina even more memorable.

If I had to choose the most memorable part of my trip I would choose the wonderful people I met. Over the course of six days, I made friendships that I will keep for life. Whether they were delegates or student leaders, 15 or 17 years old, I connected with all of them. Many friendships started in interesting ways; some were started right in my barazza, with friendly competition when playing field hockey, with playful teasing, and with rock-paper-scissors in the middle of a food court. They made you feel welcome and when you were with them you felt positive. I realized the importance of surrounding oneself with positive people, the importance of having a positive attitude and the effects of positive energy in everyday life. It taught me a lot about myself and who I want to surround myself with. In such a short time we came together and formed a tight bond which I will never forget.

A big thank you goes to all the dedicated and passionate student leaders and organizers of this conference. The memories created are owed to them. With their outgoing, cheerful and friendly personalities, it made the conference successful. Their enthusiasm and smile was contagious and made this experience worth remembering.

This Round Square Conference in Argentina will be remembered forever. It has taught me the importance of service, leadership and leading by example. Most of all, it gave me insight on how to be my best self.

Thank you LCC and Ms. Shadley for this amazing opportunity! – MariaLuisa Vigano ’18