05 Jan RSIC 2017 – South Africa

Unite to ignite the fire within – The Round Square International Conference 2017, Cape Town, South Africa

With the theme of ‘Unite to Ignite the Fire Within’, this year’s Round Square International Conference  was hosted in Cape Town, South Africa and aimed to embrace diversity and ignite global change to excite the fire within.

Transylvania College, global member of Round Square, was represented by a delegation of 3 students – Lorena Sangeorzan, Georgiana Mois and Dia Muresan, Miss Simona Baciu and Miss Iulia Bratfalean-Igna.

The two weeks spent in south Africa were so rich in activities, meetings, discussions, visits and cultural events that we felt we are there for months.

Together with students and teachers from Round Square schools across the world, we were immersed in the South African culture, we visited some of the most beautiful surroundings in Mpumalanga, Kruger national Park and Cape Town and we were engaged in discussions related with the world actual problems.

Formally known as Eastern Transvaal, Mpumalanga is considered to be one of the most geographically diverse and unbelievably beautiful places in South Africa. Known as “The place where the sun rises,” Mpumalanga lies in the east of South Africa, north of KwaZulu-Natal and bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. In the northeast, the land rises towards mountain peaks and then terminates in an immense escarpment. In some places, this escarpment plunges hundreds of metres down to the low-lying area known as the Lowveld. People are drawn to Mpumalanga by the magnificent scenery, by the fauna and flora and by the saga of the 1870s gold rush era and a wealth of fascinating tribal legends. Mountains, panoramic passes, valleys, rivers, waterfalls and forests characterise the landscape.

Lying in the heart of the Lowveld is a wildlife sanctuary like no other, its atmosphere so unique that it allows those who enter its vastness to immerse themselves in the unpredictability and endless wilderness that is the true quality of Africa. The largest game reserve in South Africa, the Kruger National Park is larger than Israel. Nearly 2 million hectares of land that stretch for 352 kilometres from north to south along the Mozambique border, is given over to an almost indescribable wildlife experience. Certainly it ranks with the best in Africa and is the flagship of the country’s national parks – rated as the ultimate safari experience.

When you’re exploring a country there are few things better than stopping your car at a viewpoint and being rewarded with the kind of scenery that brightens your day and broadens your horizons. On the Panorama Route in Mpumalanga, every viewpoint gives you that opportunity. Breathtaking views, plunging waterfalls, eagles flying above you and a rich history, quite literally, as it includes the gold rush years, are the kinds of things you will enjoy when you visit the Panorama Route. ‘Guarded’ by the small town of Graskop, this famous route is home to mountains, forests and canyons, most notably, the Blyde River Canyon.

Situated in the shadow of the majestic “Mariepskop” which forms part of the mighty Drakensberg mountains, there is the unique Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a home to many of South Africa’s abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife. Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is extremely proud of its efforts in wildlife education in South Africa. At Moholoholo they are often faced with the difficult decision of what to do with an injured or poisoned animal which will not be able to be released back into the wild. As a result, they have a number of “permanent residents” at the centre and at their own cost they use them as “ambassadors” for their respective species. Members of the public are therefore able to get an up close and personal experience of these incredible creatures and with Moholoholo’s hands on approach they have the ability to demonstrate to the public the threats and problems our wildlife is facing today.

The province of the Western Cape is situated in the most southerly corner of Africa. Both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans border its coastal zone. The diversity of the scenery is quite unique, from the flat semi-desert plains of the Karoo, to the breathtaking mountain ranges with their most unusual folding and geological structures, unlike anywhere else in the world.

Cape Town, more commonly known as “the Mother City” is made up of graceful historic buildings, a wealth of tradition, fresh seafood, fine wines and many fascinating shops. Cape Town grew around the original site of the first European settlement of Southern Africa, which was started in April 1652, when Jan van Riebeck and his small party landed on the shores beneath Table Mountain. Their mission was to establish a refreshment station for the ships of the Dutch East India Company, which were sailing between Europe and the Spice Islands of the East. A permanent settlement soon sprang up around the station. Cape Town’s rich history, modern culture, and incredible attractions make it a true metropolis on the coast and the perfect location to host Round Square’s International Conference in 2017.

We have learnt life lessons listening to the key note speakers.

Lorne Sulcas

Lorne Sulcas is a former longtime game ranger and an acclaimed photographer.

 He has spent more than two decades studying and photographing Africa’s big cats in the African bush-veld. Africa’s three big cats – cheetah, leopard and lion – have a million-year-old proven track record of survival in a wild, fiercely competitive, constantly changing world. In his presentations, Lorne shared the success lessons he has learnt from these potent hunters – lessons of survival and thriving, lessons of growth and leadership and lessons that talk to the importance of synergy and networking in the face of massive challenge and change.

 Caleb Swanepoel

Caleb Swanepoel could have given up on life after he lost his right leg during a shark attack‚ but instead he turned the traumatic experience into a career and he is now a South African Adaptive Surfing Champion.

The 22 year-old University of Cape Town Drama Student was body surfing with his brothers on a family holiday in June 2015 when the incident occurred. His brother pulled him from the water and they were assisted on the beach by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). Caleb attributes his mom’s support and her outlook on life that “it all depends on you” (IADOY) as the reason that a mere three weeks after his life changed forever, he returned to the water and faced the fear head on. He represented South Africa in the Adaptive Surfing Championships in San Diego and is completing his Drama degree against all odds.

Dr William Fowlds

Dr William Fowlds is a renowned South African wildlife vet and rhino specialist who is passionate about wildlife conservation.

His day job includes darting lions, elephants and antelope, relocating animals to other parts of the reserve, helping injured animals and applying tracking collars to cheetahs.

The current crisis regarding our rhinos has greatly concerned Dr Fowlds. He described seeing rhinos lying helplessly on the ground after poachers had brutally removed bone, skin and horn with either machetes or axes, leaving the rhinos for dead.  His struggle to save these rhino has made headline news around the world. He was interviewed on Sky News, BBC News, CNN and ABC television.

Dr Fowlds dedicates a huge portion of his time championing the plight of the rhino through various initiatives and has raised a great deal of awareness about poaching and the illegal rhino horn trade. He feels strongly that the only way to successfully stop the poaching crisis is to stop the demand for the rhino horn itself.

 Dr William Fowlds is an amazing vet doing incredible work to protect rhinos throughout the world. As he says, “tomorrow will simply be too late, we need to stop rhino poaching today”.

We participated in work-shops, good practice sharing, we cleaned and planted in a rural primary school garden during our Service day, we enjoyed hiking, cycling, surfing, kayaking during our adventure day and made many, many relationships with students and teachers from all over the world.

Like the other RS International conferences, the RSIC2017 was another great opportunity for us to better understand the world, to develop our international soft skills, to  strengthen our Global Awareness program  in the broad context of Round Square global network.

You can find more pictues here.

Iulia Bratfalean-Igna,

7th of October 2017

Marius Bulia


Marius Bulia


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