Exploring Democracy in the Big Apple

By: Mme Tiziana Patella, Middle School Teacher

posted: Thursday, May 4, 2017

From April 20-26, 2007, SJR Middle School students, Sparshita and Paige, along with Mme Patella joined 72 other Middle School student delegates and 32 teachers from around the world to ‘Explore Democracy in the Big Apple’ at the Round Square, Conference of the Americas in New York City.

So what does “Exploring Democracy in the Big Apple” mean? This was the question that Sparshita (Grade 8), Paige (Grade 7) and I set out to find answers to when we set out on SJR’s first Round Square adventure in New York city.

Each day focused on a specific theme. Global Democracy was explored at the United Nations allowing us to understand the relative weight of the individual person versus the collective good. Globalisation of the Arts set the stage for exploration of different mediums, “mass media” and a general understanding and the importance of the arts in today’s society. Our service leaning day focused on urban environmental issues surrounding the garbage crisis and pollution being created. Our final day brought us to Ellis Island where the focus was on immigration, integration and pride. We explored the reality of multicultural and multiracial democracy.

So what was the answer to our question? There is no official answer. What we did learn was that no matter where you come from in the world or what language you speak, that we really want it to make profound connections with other people. We listened to each other’s stories, talking about our respective countries and culture. Having open conversations and listening to each other opened up our minds to new perspectives. Simply put, this experience allowed us to learn about people. Round Square was the driving force behind this once in a lifetime experience.

About Round Square

Round Square is a global network of innovative schools in 50 countries on six continents that share a passion for experiential learning and character education. The Round Square approach is built around six IDEALS of learning: International Understanding, Democracy, Environmental Stewardship, Adventure, Leadership and Service.

The Round Square Discovery Framework offers a structure that connects the IDEALS with twelve Discoveries that students explore on their learning journey: inquisitiveness, tenacity, courage, compassion, inventiveness, ability to solve problems, self-awareness, sense of responsibility, appreciation for diversity, commitment to sustainability, communication and team-working skills.

Within the Framework, students and faculty in Member Schools are encouraged to discover and develop their own capabilities through a range of experiences, activities, collaborative projects and challenges, both in and beyond the curriculum, including international, regional and local social service projects, exchanges and conferences.