Embracing an international perspective

05 Aug 2019

Year 13 student and Head of International & Round Square Mark Ma and his committee organised a packed programme of events and activities for Round Square International Week, which was held Monday 29 July–Friday 2 August.

Choosing diversity as the theme for his sermon at the International Languages Chapel Service on Monday morning gave Year 13 student Edward Hsing the opportunity to reflect on how we are all different and yet we all have so much to offer.

“In this Chapel we have students and teachers of different backgrounds and nationalities. Each individual in this room is diverse. This is extraordinary, something that is usually overlooked and not appreciated enough. We have a wonderful global resource right here in our community. So many of us have experience of other languages and cultural practices, and can bring fresh perspectives to the issues we discuss. Our patterns of thinking can be challenged in exciting ways from this. We shouldn’t take it for granted, but should value it more.”

Edward urged everyone to get involved in Round Square International Week.

“Take up this massive opportunity to learn something new from the activities showcased this week, embrace the diverse cultures and what they have to offer, because it is by being open to new experiences that we become well-rounded and interesting people ourselves.”

On Monday lunchtime, an enthusiastic group of aspiring linguists enjoyed a friendly but competitive game of Kahoot! With words and phrases in 20 different languages flashed up on the screen, the 20 multi-choice questions tested language skills of all participants. “Notre Dame”, aka Year 9 student William Sudell, took first place, and Year 10 student Thimeth Wijesinghe was runner-up.

Led and curated by Mark Ma, the international assembly on Tuesday morning featured videos looking at the Round Square ideal of Adventure in the College context and international students from Germany, Korea and China talking about life at College and some of the lessons they have learned living far from home. Year 13 student Tom Davidson shared his experience participating in a Round Square “Big Build” service project in Morocco, and Year 10 student Timmy Li and Year 11 student Matthew Zhang introduced the audience to traditional Chinese music – with Timmy playing the two-stringed erhu and Matthew on the hulusi, a gourd flute.

With questions devised by Year 12 students Yngve Jordan and Angad Vraich, quizmaster and Deputy Head Prefect Max Heywood hosted the House Culture Quiz at lunchtime on Tuesday. With ten countries to identify and four hints about each, there was much discussion, plenty of banter and some bemusement before the eureka moment arrived. It was close, but Flower’s House came out on top, with Condell’s second and Somes third.

On Wednesday evening Year 9 and 10 boarders enjoyed spectacular performances from a Japanese drum group and a Chinese Lion Dance troupe.

A crowd of hungry students made a beeline for the international food trucks parked in the Upham Quad at lunchtime on Thursday. Concurrently in the Chapman Room, for Cultural Festival Day, they could try their hand at calligraphy and art, learn how to read timeless children’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Chinese, and experience aspects of traditional Chinese and Indian culture, dance and performance. Representatives of the Christchurch Indian Association presented flower garlands in the green, orange and white of the Indian flag to Executive Principal Garth Wynne, Deputy Principal Rob Donaldson, Head Prefect Zach Gallagher and Mark Ma, and members of the Chinese community, from the Chinese Culture Association and the Confucius Institute of UC, performed Chinese dances and gave a demonstration of Tai Chi.

Finally, at the end of a busy week of activities, Friday was all about games – with international board games in the Chapman Room, lacrosse on Upper and kick volleyball in the gym. It was a fun way to let off some steam and finish our week-long celebration of different aspects of some of the diverse cultures we embrace at College.