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Το ετήσιο συνέδριο των σχολείων Round Square (Αγγλικό κείμενο)
Τετάρτη, 16 Οκτωβρίου 2002
Κατηγορία: Ομιλίες

The following speech was delivered at the Closing Ceremony of the 2002 Round Square Conference in Salem on 16 October 2002.

It is sad, that our Round Square Conferences- which bring together the youth of the world in a spirit of peace and understanding- have been held for the past two years in the shadow of such tragic and unspeakable terrorist attacks;?.. last year in New York and Washington and this year in Bali.

At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with those families and friends, who have lost loved ones, or who are waiting for news of missing relatives and friends.

I can only say that such events give us, the Round Square schools, more focus to our reason for being.

The theme of this year's Conference has been a chance for all member schools to reflect on the roots and origins of Round Square. Whilst considering the genuine opportunities, we have to continue our growth, development and whenever needed, reform.

It is no coincidence, that the chosen theme implies brevity in historical examination, ?..'a glance back', and purposeful movement, ?'a step forward', in future planning.

Terry Guest, our Executive Director, the other day gave us some statistics. They clearly showed that in our schools, students and staff are fully involved in the core element of the Hahnian philosophy...... giving to others through selfless acts of service!....... That of course is true, provided you all answer honestly!!

We cannot, however, miss the opportunity to also take a step forward. If the successes of the past are to be repeated and surpassed, we must continue the process of critical appraisal, reform and development of our Organization.

We need to continue to improve the efficiency of the organizational support for member schools, to assist them in what they do as Round Square members.

We need to develop our capacities, perhaps through the Friends of Round Square and whatever other means and ideas we can come up with, to find genuine financial support to allow and facilitate Round Square to do more for more.

We need to find ways to both explain and promote the ideals of Round Square in a single, clearly enunciated form, to those beyond our close community. This may mean that we need to be bolder in our self-promotion, and perhaps embrace contemporary marketing and public relations tactics.


It hardly seems possible, that four days have passed since our Opening Ceremony. From my observation point, you have all been extremely busy in meetings, attending lectures, pillar group discussions, cultural performances and RSIS presentations.

Besides the business at hand, I am sure you have taken advantage of what this marvelous host school has to offer you- its history, its beautiful landscapes and its hospitality.

But more than that, you have had the opportunity to make new friends, because this is one of the most important things in Round Square Conferences.

To the student delegates especially, I would like to address a certain topic, which underlies all the facets of education in a Round Square school, and that is experience.

Experiences are what make up the fabric of your life.

For example, when you were a baby, learning the meaning of a word like 'hot'. This word meant nothing ?until you have felt it, and learned that it was wise not to touch anything hot. Then as you got older, you learned that there were shades of meaning to words, again by feeling, smelling, tasting, hearing and seeing. You learned what you liked, what you wanted and what you feared. But most important of all- you learned what was right and what was wrong.

Now, however old you are, you are still learning, and you do this by experiencing life. Some days nothing new comes along--- it is all the same routine. But then comes an opportunity like a Round Square Conference, ??like this Conference, ?.when you have the chance to travel to new places, taste new food, discuss new topics and ideas and above all meet new faces and make new friends.

How you meet these new experiences will determine how much you will learn and grow as a person. It will determine how much you are going to gain. If you count the minutes until you go back home, you will gain and grow very little. But if you take every chance to be bombarded with new ideas, sights and sounds you haven't had, seen or heard before, ?.you will somehow be changed by them. You will have grown immeasurably.

Sometimes an experience can be an unpleasant or a fearful one. This was clearly shown to us by the Salem students, when they gave us an account of what they did after the two planes collided nearby.

Round Square schools encourage you to challenge yourself through adventure and service. The rock face you are expected to climb, the specter of poverty you have to face working in a soup kitchen, are perhaps not easy. But the fact that you are expected to participate and learn from these, is one of the clearest lessons of your education.

At our Opening Ceremony, we had the opportunity to listen to the presentation of Dr. Neudeck, founder of the Committee Cap Anamur. We heard how they managed to save thousand of lives of people, who were trying to escape from war, terrorism, tyranny and other man-made or natural catastrophes. After all, tyranny and terrorism are two sides of the same coin.

Natural catastrophes like floods and earthquakes, we can not prevent. We can only make certain that we provide the victims with whatever assistance is needed. When we talk, however, about man-made catastrophes like wars, and especially in the beginning of the 21st century, this is something world leaders should be able to avert.

Why is it that in the last 12 years, we had so many wars or conflicts? ??..

So many people killed,
So many refugees,
So many homeless,
So much destruction,
???. So much suffering!!

Maybe we should bring world leaders to our Round Square Conferences, to learn all about peaceful coexistence, to learn about the power of friendship.

We are faced today with such a possibility. The media talk about an imminent war that may change our world, as we know it. The effects are already obvious. The world economy is in a shock and the rise in the price of oil is affecting everybody.

Yet we have created plenty of transnational organisations for the very purpose of avoiding armed conflict. Organisations like the United Nations, which provide a forum for discussions, and diplomatic avenues that should help solve problems by mutual consent.

We cannot go around bombing people, because we may create greater problems than the ones we are trying to solve.

We cannot go around changing established borders, because that will provoke future conflicts.

We cannot continue to ignore mass world poverty.

We cannot allow children to grow up away from schools and lack of any education, ?..because we will then raise more desperate children, that might one day be used as human bombs.

In a democratic spirit, everyone's point of view needs to be heard. To differ on important issues does not mean that one is a fundamentalist. Patient listening, helps the listener to understand, while his opponent is relieved that he has been heard. Very often logic is sacrificed when emotions are strong.

Today's world is more interdependent than ever before. What happens to one part of the world affects all of us. And if young people ever again have to fight and possibly die, ?.they and their parents must be absolutely certain why?

Democracy demands that the people be given the facts and not just the thinking of their leaders, especially when parents send their children to war. They should know what cause is really demanding the utmost sacrifice.?????..

At this point we must all thank?
Dr. Bueb, for hosting this wonderful Conference.
Ulrika and Christian and their organizing team.
The guest speakers.
The staff of Salem.
The kitchen staff and the backstage helpers.
The students of Salem.

Congratulations also to our Executive Director and his team, for the excellent work they have done this year.

Dear students and fellow delegates.

There is only a little time left in the Conference now. But do not start saying goodbye. Cherish every minute left to you here in this wonderful school and go home a wiser person. Your experiences will have helped you grow and will give you much to share with you fellow students on your return to your schools. Go on exchange. Initiate other discussions and regional conferences. Join an RSIS project.

God bless you all. See you next year in South Africa.

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