Round Square International Conference “The new Africa”
by Magnus & Rafael: Abi 2, Klara & Ferdinand: Abi 1
Insights into the travel diary of our Round Square delegation that traveled to Africa for the International Conference.

At the annual Round Square International Conference (RSIC), the network's school delegations meet to focus on a specific topic and exchange experiences. The content input takes the form of lectures and subsequent workshops, while the practical discussion of the IDEALS topics also takes place in joint outdoor, adventure and service activities. This year, the Salem delegation traveled to Nairobi (Kenya), where the Brookhouse International School hosted an event on the topic of ‘The new Africa’ - what perspectives and developments can be observed and what future is the continent's youth looking towards? The supporting program started a week earlier in order to get the group in the mood for the realities of life and the cultural and natural environment of East Africa. The pre-conference started in Tanzania.  Our delegation spent a total of two weeks the trip to Africa. Our students Ferdinand, Klara, Magnus and Rafael wrote about what they experienced in their joint travel diary.

October 1 - 7: Pre-Conference

Day 1 – Sunday October 1, 2023
After the first night in Nairobi, we left at 12:00 noon to pick up the delegation from Colombia at the airport. Together with them, we then drove four hours to Arusha, a city in Tanzania, not far from the Kenyan border. On the journey, we saw a lot of rural and urban environments, as well as wild animals such as zebras and giraffes. In the afternoon we arrived at our hotel, the Ilboru Safari Lodge in Arusha, where we spent the rest of the day relaxing and looking forward to the next day.

Day 2 – Monday October 2, 2023
Today we woke up at Ilboru Safari Lodge. This is also where the delegates from Boston (USA), Bogotá (Colombia) and San Francisco (USA) are staying, with whom we will be spending this week together. After breakfast, we met students from the local Round Square School St. Constantine’s and had them show us around Arusha and the market, which I think was a new, exotic and very interesting experience for all of us. After having lunch together, we drove to a shelter for girls and women who have been subjected to traumatic experiences in their villages and families, have been affected by genital mutilation or were to be forced into marriage. For the girls, schooling ends with early marriage.  We learned a lot about the history of the house and the women living there from the founder, and the young women themselves told us about their lives and their history. The encounters were very moving and made us all very thoughtful.

Day 3 – Tuesday October 3, 2023

Today we went on a trip to Camp Joshua School, a school that supports children in need with a place to sleep, food, clothing and education. It was important for us to give the children joy and attention, and they really enjoyed it. The children, from pre-school age to Year 7, were easily inspired to play a game of soccer, draw with chalk and climb on the climbing frame. However, the school children were particularly enthusiastic about teaching us African dances and African clapping games.

We then visited the St. Constantine’s International School. There we helped with the school's sports tournament. Here, four houses compete against each other, a very similar concept to our wing tournaments. Our job was to take measurements, make sure the students were in the right place at the right time - and to cheer them on!

Day 4 – Wednesday October 4, 2023

In the morning our delegation went to Camp Joshua School for a second time. We played with the children, learned a lot about the situation and organization of the school and got to know the founder. Then we helped with the renovation and repainted the children's kitchen and bedrooms. In the afternoon, we drove to Arusha's Round Square School St. Constantine’s and talked about the IDEALS and our school programs.


Day 5 – Thursday October 5, 2023
We got up very early to go on safari. Split into several jeeps, we drove into Tarangire National Park, a truly incredible and definitely unforgettable place. We were all very impressed by the beauty of nature and the many animals. We drove through the huge park with the roof open and saw a lot. Lions, leopards, antelopes, elephants, zebras and giraffes, among others. Then we drove to our campsite in the middle of the park. At night, elephants walked around the tents looking for food and we could hear the calls of hyenas.

Day 6 – Friday October 6, 2023
The second day of our safari trip started at dawn with an unforgettable elephant visit to our camp. After such an impressive event, the day could begin. Today we went on safari in Lake Manyara National Park. A national park with a huge variety of animals and completely different vegetation to what we knew from Tarangire Park.  After our safari, we drove to a Maasai village. Here we learned a lot about their nomadic life, including the technique of lighting fires, building round huts and the rituals involved in choosing a partner (it's all about being able to jump as high as possible!). We spent the night again in our tents near the national park.

Day 7 – Saturday October 7, 2023

On the last of the three safari days, we drove from our campsite to the Ngorongoro Crater National Park. This is a huge crater in which a large number of animals of different species live and come together in a small area due to the good food and water supply. My personal highlight was seeing the rhinos, which are now only found in this park in Tanzania.

Before we drove back to our hostel in Arusha, we made a short stop at the top of the crater wall, where you have a great view over the whole area and the park. Once we arrived at the hostel, we first enjoyed a traditional African dance performance, which we were also able to take part in. Afterwards, we all had dinner together, looked back on the highlights of the week and concluded the pre-conference with lots of new friends and anticipation for the conference in Nairobi.

October 8 - 14, 2023: Round Square International Conference

Day 8 and 9 – Sunday and Monday October 8 and 9, 2023

The last day of the pre-conference and thus the first day of the RSIC 2023 started for us with a beautiful drive through the landscapes of Tanzania and Kenya. We received a very warm welcome at the Brookhouse School in Nairobi, Kenya. But after a small, atmospheric concert, we were all glad to be able to get into our beds in the hostel. The official opening ceremony took place the next day. After Margaret Kenyatta, the former First Lady of Kenya, had welcomed the guests, all the delegations present were introduced and speeches were given. The day ended for us after a first meeting in smaller discussion groups - Baraza groups - in which we got to know each other and approached the first topics.

Day 10 - October 10 2023
In the morning, our group of around 200 people travelled to the Karen Campus in buses with camping and overnight equipment. There we had breakfast and a briefing on the day's activities. Adventure Day was on the agenda for us, and with it a visit to the nearby Nairobi National Park. We saw crocodiles, hippos, zebras, lions, antelopes, monkeys and much more. The park is just outside the city gates, so you can see the wild animals against the Nairobi skyline. In the evening there was a big dinner, campfire and a dance demonstration by a Maasai tribe. The evening was rounded off with discussions in various groups and music.

Day 11 – Wednesday October 11, 2023
Today we woke up early with pots and pans to have breakfast, pack our things and head back to school in Nairobi. This day was Democracy Day. This means discussing the importance of democracy and cohesion in society, doing activities and learning from other cultures and important personalities. In the auditorium where we all gathered, we heard two very special presentations. The first speaker was responsible for an organization that gives children from the slums an opportunity to go back to school. The second speaker was responsible for a humanitarian organization in Rwanda, and talked about their exciting work. After the final round of discussions, we were picked up by our Kenyan host families, where we spent the night. We all found that the families were very welcoming and we learned a lot about what it is like to live in Nairobi. For example, I didn't realize that there are a lot of gated communities there.

Day 12 – Thursday October 12, 2023
Today was service day. After spending the night with our host families, we were taken to another, smaller and much poorer school nearby.  Once there, we were given the task of repainting one of the classrooms and renovating the kitchen. As we were all happily working together, the kids' break began and we interrupted our work to play with them. When the children's break was over, we got together with the principal and all the pupils to plant trees in their yard as a sign of eternal solidarity.

Day 13 – Friday October 13, 2023
On the final day, all students from all delegations met in the morning at the Karen Campus for breakfast, and we met again in smaller discussion groups. After lunch, we went back to the hostel to change and prepare for the official closing event. In the afternoon, the buses drove to a rented restaurant with a huge outdoor area where there was room for all the students, teachers, organizers and Brookhouse parents. Speeches were given, including one by a representative of the last King of Greece, King Constantine II, who was a Round Square supporter and patron for many decades and passed away this year. This was followed by a large and very good festive dinner, after which there was live music and dancing. That same evening, the first delegations departed with emotional farewells.