King’s Academy September 17, 2015 — The Round Square Office at King’s Academy set a new record for summer exchange this year when six students – triple the usual number – embarked on exciting adventures in South Africa, Australia and Peru this past summer.
Ramiz Kardan ’16 and Sari Samakie ’17 traveled to Johannesburg, where they stayed with the host families of delegates who attended the Round Square International Conference held at King’s last October. The boys attended classes at St Stithians College, presented talks on Jordan and the Middle East, and enjoyed an “authentic experience of the rainbow nation” when they visited sites including the Nelson Mandela National Museum, a game reserve housing a variety of stunning wildlife and a cheetah farm. They also joined in the Youth Day festivities on June 16, an event that celebrates the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid regime.
“This trip showed me that diversity exists in all parts of the world,” said Kardan. “The exposure was incredible, and I feel like I discovered a new piece of myself that I never knew existed.”
Samakie also visited six different schools (among which were the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, Dainfern College and St. Cyprian's School) to connect with his peers through open discussion and help shift the general perspective on the Middle East.
“We’re ambassadors to King’s on these trips and I have to say it made me very proud of my King’s identity,” Samakie said. “It’s important to share knowledge and create dialogue but first you have to be the best version of yourself in order to start making a change.”
Tiamike Dudley ’17 described his multicultural exchange at Bridge House School in Cape Town as “fluid and dynamic,” an exciting new pace that proved – despite the various backgrounds and nationalities at the school – “everyone’s heart was beating at the same time, everyone was in rhythm with each other.”
A highlight for Dudley was visiting the infamous prison at Robben Island, the tour of which was given by a former inmate.
“It was incredible!” he said. “Going on this type of exchange made me see how big the world is but how small I can make it.”
Mohamad El-Dada ’17 and Feryal Saddedin ’17 travelled down under where they attended Ballarat Grammar School and St. Phillips College respectively. As with Kardan and Samakie, both students lived with the families of previous exchange students at King’s during their stays in Australia.
Faisal Alalami ’16 joined students from four different continents who opted to travel to Peru for one of Round Square’s annual International Service Projects (RSIS). The diverse group took on leadership roles as they ventured into the village of Yuncachimpa (in the Andes near the city of Cusco) to build guinea pig rearing stables.
In addition to bonding with their host families by sharing in their lifestyle, which included harvesting corn, they explored Peruvian food and culture, learned about the indigenous communities and their philosophy of life, went rock climbing and observed local customs. A visit to Machu Picchu was the “icing on the cake” for Alalami.
“You get to make friends from all over the world, you get to put yourself in other people’s shoes,” he said. “We all came to Peru for one purpose: to help other people out, to satisfy that human instinct of compassion that transcends race, nationality, religion. These trips allow people to embrace the very compassion that makes us human.”