Amazing Achievements…


Helen Keller, Samuel Morse and Christopher Columbus

Jonah, who is seven years old, came home from school one day last term and told us that he had to choose a person that had done something amazing in the world as part of his Amazing Achievements project.  He then had to research this person and put together a presentation for his classmates, their parents and visitors to the school in a few weeks time.  Bringing this task to the dinner table was interesting because as parents it is important to show an interest and to fully support your child in their school work but not to impose your own thoughts and ideas on the learning process.  It was vital that Jonah ‘owned’ the process and had the passion and enthusiasm to research and present on someone that he really aspired to.

Who would you choose for your amazing achievements project?  Who is your hero?




Of course my emotions and initial instincts tempted me to suggest the likes of: Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi… but I resisted and we took the approach of brainstorming his interests and things he likes to read and find out more about before making a decision.  His list went something like this:

Inventing things, science, poetry, animals, helping people…

After taking these ideas on board I did publicly suggest my ideas around the table, ‘wouldn’t it be great to do Charles Darwin, Dr. Jane Goodall or even better Wilfred Owen – it is the 100th anniversary of WW1 – what a great connection.’  After explaining who these remarkable people were and why I thought they had contributed amazing achievements I was not getting much enthusiasm from Jonah.  Jonah’s mother then suggested that he actually think more locally and choose somebody related to Thailand and possibly someone that may even still be alive and could be involved in the research process (a great idea).  So we then considered:

Khun Lek (Elelphant Nature Park), Nancy Gibson (Love Wildlife Thailand) and Khun Mechai Viravaidya (The Bamboo School)*

*Posts to follow soon on each of these inspiring people and speakers

Jonah started to show more interest and liked the idea of being able to actually meet the person he was researching and presenting on and having primary information – possibly even involve them in his presentation as well!  By the end of (an extended) dinner time we had discussed a wide range of ideas and possibilities and left him with the weekend to make his final decision and to come up with someone who he wanted to do his project on.

With a little help from the iPad, Jonah finally came up with Samuel Morse as his amazing achievements person.  He was intrigued by Morse code and how it works, why it is used and how and why and when it was invented.  It had really caught his imagination and the more he read and the more he inquired the more he realised that Samuel Morse met most of his interests and passions.  I must admit at first I was not that impressed with his choice of person but soon realised as Jonah used his research (including an e-mail to and a reply from the Samuel Morse museum in the UK) that this was somebody that achieved a lot more than invent the Morse code, that there was a personal tragedy that motivated and ultimately urged him to help others and improve the world that he was living in at that time. I enjoyed learning through Jonah and being part of his amazing achievements project and was an immensely proud father when I got the chance to see his presentation.

This type of learning draws on personal emotions and encourages intrinsic drive and outcomes – ultimately creating amazing achievements for the young people that have been involved and supported through the process.

Click here to see Jonah’s blog about his amazing achievements project.

Click here to see a video of Jonah’s presentation.


Congratulations to Brittany Tang on achieving the Global Ambassador Award

Learn to know, Learn to do, Learn to be, Learn to live together

To see Brittany’s portfolio of targets and reflections for the Global Ambassador Award please follow:

Social Entrepreneur and Global Ambassador

Social Entrepreneur and Global Ambassador

Comment from Brittany:

To fulfill the, learn to speak more than 1 language component, I dedicated 4 years to learning French throughout high school and used this skill to communicate with French speakers in my home town.

Brittany was also awarded the King Constantine Medal for her commitment and contributions to the IDEALS of Round Square when living and studying in Thailand.  She also helped establish the Brittany Tang Award for Outstanding Global Citizenship which annually recognises the achievements of one young person as a global citizen and awards them a bursary to support a project or partnership related to their personal Global Citizenship Award.

Congratulations Brittany on being an amazing Global Citizen.  We look forward to hearing about your progress and achievements in becoming a Global Mentor.


Never heard of a hungi kengi?

Adpated from The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

On a Southwest Pacific Island called Rennell middle-aged islanders can name 126 different Rennell plant species in the Rennell language.  For each species they can explain whether the seeds and fruits are inedible to animals as well as to humans, or else eaten by birds and bats but not by humans, or else edible to humans.  Among those species eaten by humans, some are further distinguished as being ‘eaten only after the hungi kengi.’

How did the hungi kengi turn normally inedible fruits into edible ones?

A very old woman on the island is able to explain.  The hungi kengi was the Rennell name for the biggest cyclone to have hit the island in living memory, around about 1910.  The old woman had been a child at the time (and is now in her late 70s or 80s).  The cyclone had flattened Rennell’s forests, destroyed the gardens, and threatened the islanders with starvation.  Until new gardens could be planted and began producing, the people at the time had to resort to anything at all digestible, including not just the usual preferred wild fruit species but also that would be normally ignored – i.e., the fruits as being ‘eaten only after the hungi kengi’.  That required knowledge about which of those second-choice fruits were non-poisonous and safe to eat.  Fortunately, at the time of the hungi kengi, there were islanders alive who remembered an earlier cyclone and how they had coped then.  Now, this old woman is the last person alive in her village with that inherited experience and knowledge.

See also: ‘Laboon’ – the wave that eats people

Today there are about 7,000 languages still spoken throughout the world.  On average 10 languages become extinct every year and extinctions over the next century will leave the world with only a few hundred.

Why do languages become extinct?

What are the implications of a language becoming extinct?

200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes

This is a geographers dream – imagine having this resource in your classroom or even better Hans Rosling himself come and speak with you and the students…

200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes

How has globalisation and interconnections impacted the economic and social development of the world’s countries over the last 200 years?

How and why has this development varied globally, nationally and regionally (locally)?

Will every citizen of the Earth be wealthy and healthy in the next 20, 50, 100 years?

‘La-boon’ – the wave that eats people.

Why are languages and traditions important?

More than 250,000 people were killed by the Asian Tsunami on 26th December 2004 but not one Moken sea gypsy person was killed by the tsunami on Koh Surin in Thailand – why?

What can we learn from this with regards to the challenges that way face through globalisation and interconnections?

Watch this short video about the Moken sea gypsy community in Koh Surin in southern Thailand


Photo credit

We Walk Together

The Regents International School Pattaya hosted the Round Square International Conference in October 2010.  The student chosen theme was inspired by Father Joe Maier and based on community partnerships and service learning – We Walk Together.

77 schools and 850 delegates from every habitable continent attended the two week conference.  What was your highlight of the conference?  

We Walk Together logo 2010

We Walk Together logo 2010

The 2010 Round Square International Conference Statement:

We must establish a long-term relationship with our environment and community. We must build upon the foundations of what we already have and give everyone an equal opportunity to  pursue their goals.

To do this, we will:

Walk without pity, doubt and apathy,

Walk with empathy, conviction and humility,

Take small, careful and sustainable steps along the way.

Because if we don’t walk today, we will have to run tomorrow.

RS 2010 Student Steering Committee

RS 2010 Student Steering Committee

Father Joe Maier – We Walk Together (RS 2010)

Student Steering Committee with Khun Nui at the Father Ray Foundation

Student Steering Committee with Khun Nui at the Father Ray Foundation

We Walk Together RS 2010 (Mayo 2009 version)

We Walk Together Glove Dance, choreographed by Yeoi Shin Jung and performed by the Student Steering Committee

We Walk Together, music by Amit Garg and sung by RS 2010 Student Steering Committee

How are places and people interconnected and why is this important?

“interconnect” (verb) (of two or more things) to connect with or be related to each other: The problems of poverty and unemployment are all interconnected.


“interdependent” (adjective) depending on each other:  All living things are interdependent.


Task 1

Place the following nine ways that places and people are interconnected in a diamond (1, 2, 3, 2, 1) rank order based on which ones you think HAVE had the largest impact on people and changing places and environments up until today (substitute any of them for a better example that you think is missing):

Digital technology / mobile devices
Languages, culture and traditions
World Wide Web (internet)
Economy and trade
Transportation and exploration
TV, radio and media
Education (literacy)

*Please prepare a few sentences or add a comment to this post to justify your rank order / placements.

Task 2

Place the same nine ways that places and people are interconnected in a diamond (1, 2, 3, 2, 1) rank order based on which ones you think WILL have the largest impact on people and changing places and environments in the next 20 years (substitute any of them for a better example that you think is missing).

*Please prepare a few sentences or add a comment to this post to justify your rank order / placements.

Task 3

Place the same nine ways that places and people are interconnected in a diamond (1, 2, 3, 2, 1) rank order based on which ones you think SHOULD have the largest impact on people and changing places and environments in the next 20 years (substitute any of them for a better example that you think is missing).

*Please prepare a few sentences or add a comment to this post to justify your rank order / placements.

Things to think about:

Why are interconnections and inter-dependencies important for the future of places and environments?

How do people participate in an interconnected world?

How should global citizens participate in an interconnected world?