30 Apr 2019

With activities ranging from pampering penguins at the Port Phillip EcoCentre, to recycling plastic waste at Monash University, to snorkelling with the weedy seadragon, to learning about Indigenous culture and perspectives, and discussions on managing waste, sustainability and international human rights, the Gen Z: Mind Shifters Round Square regional conference at Woodleigh School, Victoria, Australia, was packed with interesting, thought-provoking and fun experiences.

Year 10 students Henry King, Jasper Johnson, Corbin Jones and Spencer Smith were among 160 participants from across Australia and East Asia at the conference, which took place in April.

“It was amazing,” says Henry. “It really pushed us outside our comfort zones, allowed us to meet new people and understand different viewpoints, and gave us a new perspective on life.”

Which is exactly what Round Square is all about.

The “mind shifters” theme was chosen to reflect the power young people have in shaping the future, and how they can bring fresh ideas and a growth mindset to the challenges we face.

“Glamping” in tents pitched on the school grounds, the boys soon made new friends and immersed themselves in the Woodleigh environment.

“The school is very different from College. It has its own farm, with animals including wallabies, goats and sheep,” says Corbin. “In the evenings, they’d light bonfires and everyone would sit around on beanbags and talk.”

But with each day having a different focus – either environment, adventure or community partnership – they were busy from dawn until dusk, on campus or further afield visiting organisations across Melbourne and its surrounds.

“There was so much to do and it was all really exciting,” says Henry. “I enjoyed everything, but especially snorkelling, the Australian bush experience and the opportunity to visit the World Vision Australia head office.”