Round Square Students Embrace Service Learning in Thailand

Round Square service trip - Thailand

Two senior students at Matthew Flinders Anglican College experienced the thrill of service learning in a rural community, embarking on a Round Square International Service Project in Thailand from 5-18 December last year. 

Sydney and Gemma, now in Year 12 at Flinders, joined 60 students aged 16-18 years olds from across 14 countries to work on the ‘Bring the Elephant Home’ project in a community called Ruam Thai, neighbouring the majestic Kui Buri National Park in southern Thailand. 

The College’s Old Flinderians’ Association sponsored Sydney’s Round Square adventure as a bursary to encourage senior students to engage in service learning and grow as global citizens with the desire and skills to contribute to the wider world. 

Over the two-week project, Sydney and Gemma helped to build a community research centre out of mud cob, which is made from a mix of dirt, hay and water, as well as construct hornbill nest boxes.

They also learned about the complex ecological, economic and social issues that result when elephants from Kui Buri National Park encroach onto the farmland and eat the pineapples, which is one of the town's largest income streams.

The project’s long-term aim is to create an environment where the Thai people and wild elephants peacefully share the same land in an ecologically and financially viable way, such as through wildlife habitat conservation and sustainable tourism. 

Applications are open now for the 2024 Round Square project from 16-29 July to build a school for local children in the same location in Thailand. 

Sydney declared her Round Square adventure “the best experience of my life!

“I made so many incredible memories and formed friendships while learning about a different culture,” Sydney said. 

“It was fascinating to go on tours of the town, walking through many elephant safaris in the national park and through the farmlands seeing their elephant prevention techniques.

“We also went to the local school and played soccer and volleyball against their teams, which was so much fun!

“My biggest takeaway is that it’s not as daunting as it seems to make friends from different cultures across the world.”

As a certified Round Square school, Flinders is part of the international Round Square network of more than 250 like-minded schools in 50 countries that connect and collaborate to offer world-class exchange, service learning and leadership programs.

Flinders’ Round Square Co-ordinator, Mrs Jodie Symons said Round Square service projects enable students to participate in ongoing, sustainable, educational projects that tackle an issue. 

“Round Square projects offer our students countless opportunities to develop leadership skills, test their spirit of adventure, build their understanding of respectful partnership-based community service, and make new friends from right across the world.”

The 2024 service project is an opportunity to help build a school in the local community to support children’s education. Participating students will also spend time with children in the local community, and learn about Thai culture and history. 

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