MUN: Forging A Unique Kind of International Bond

By Clare J. ’18
Photos by Calvin B.’18 and Mrs. Woodbridge

Model United Nations at LCDS is an integral part of the school’s culture. We all know that every year, for 10 days, a handful of seniors will depart, leaving classes feeling sparse and practices missing a few players. This year, 10 students, joined by Head of Upper School Jenny Gabriel and Director of Global Programs Heather Woodbridge, traveled to the Netherlands and Belgium for the 2018 THIMUN Conference.

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The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) Conference boasts attendance of more than 3,200 students from 200 schools across the globe. Students from Afghanistan, Ireland, Egypt, the United States and elsewhere join together for a five-day conference in which they discuss topics from nuclear disarmament on a global scale to measures to assist Syrian refugees. Most assemblies hold around 150 delegations, all made up of students who have spent months preparing to represent their country’s policy.

This year, LCDS students represented the Kingdom of Bahrain, a small archipelago off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. With a 94 percent literacy rate and a high number of employed and educated women, Bahrain is somewhat progressive compared to other Middle Eastern countries. Their official policies when on social issues, such as LGBT and women’s rights, are more in line with those of the U.S. than those of neighboring Saudi Arabia. As the only post-oil economy in the Gulf, Bahrain has a unique economic situation. Their private sector continues to expand, unlike Middle Eastern states that continue to solely rely on revenue from gas and oil production and purification.

Changing from our Western mindset to that of a Middle Eastern country came with its challenges, but our months of class prepared us well to do so. For example, Bahrain’s policy on assisting Syrian refugees leans toward monetary assistance rather than offering asylum. Rather than jumping to our instinct of signing resolutions offering asylum to refugees, we had to carefully consider the position of our delegation and act on it, no matter how reluctant we were to do so.

In the weeks leading up to our departure, the class buzzed with thoughts of what the conference would be like. We wondered if we would be prepared, if our resolutions would get passed, and most of all what it would really be like.

The day before the conference officially began, our class decided to take a quick tour of the World Forum. We walked through the grand hallways and found where each of our assemblies would be meeting. Soon enough our group crossed paths with another delegation from London. Within mere seconds of introductions, our teams had merged and looked like one large group that had known each other for years.

On Monday, the first day of the conference, I met a 17-year-old from Cairo. We exchanged names, ages and where we were from. As soon as I told her I was from the U.S., I was inundated with questions about my life in Pennsylvania. She asked about the election, what Amish people are like, and if I had ever seen a protest. We talked about our day to day lives, both of us amazed at the other’s stories. At the end of our first conversation, she said something to me that will not be soon forgotten.

“Isn’t it great that we live such different lives, but it feels like we’re just two old friends?”

It wasn’t only me who bonded with another student at the conference. Approach any one of the students that took part in the trip, I’m sure that each one would tell you about a unique friendship they formed.

THIMUN was unlike any other experience I’ve had. After bonding with not only our class but students from other schools and countries, I can say with confidence that any future MUNers will feel the same.

A Week in the Life — Vol. 5

This edition of A Week in the Life presents memorable moments of the young new year. Highlights include the Forensics class delving into the messy world of (fake) blood spatter; the Cougarbots Yellow team taking third place in the Robot Ruckus First LEGO scrimmage, eighth-graders reimagining fairy tales for the stage, and the unparalleled joy of recess.

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A Week in the Life — Vol. 4

In addition to the usual day-in-the-life series of photos, this edition features Middle School overnight trips, as well as the Montreal and Quebec City voyage. Meanwhile back here at home, the head of school played a little impromptu squash on our newly opened courts. Finally, we present the striking photographs of German international student Max K. ’19. They are images of the school as you’ve never seen it.

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‘Why Not Give it a Go?’

In early November, Country Day hosted Fiona Kennedy, the first teacher to visit LCDS as part of our new faculty exchange with Kelvinside Academy in Scotland. “Fiona was the perfect first teacher for the faculty exchange,” said Director of Global Programs Heather Woodbridge. “She’s so instantly warm and open and the kids just loved her. By the end of the week her classes were ending with hugs and group photos. That’s just her.”

Most of Kennedy’s time was spent introducing variations of handball to students of all ages. “Fiona would have fit it well regardless, but being a PE teacher really allowed her to reach all three divisions and experience as broad a classroom experience as you can get,” Woodbridge said.

The PE teacher and handball coach spoke to Cougar News with a thick Scottish brogue, and told a story you’d never believe if it weren’t true:

When Fiona Kennedy couldn’t get two tickets to the 2012 London Olympics, she was disappointed, but had another idea.

The Olympics set aside a certain number of tickets for schools, so while she couldn’t score two for herself, she was able to get 40 for her and a group of students. The only events that hadn’t sold out were basketball and handball, so that’s what they saw.

“I thought the kids would be excited about basketball and not care much about handball because it wasn’t something they were familiar with. But it was the other way around. They loved handball. Loved it.”

The entire trip back from London to Glasgow, her kids were relentless in asking her if the school could start a handball team. Somewhere in the middle of England, she said sure.

“I just thought why not give it a go,” Kennedy told the BBC in 2014.

“And within six weeks we’d entered the Scottish championships, where we came third.”

In the five years since launching the program, Kelvinside’s handball team has won 15 national titles and its players make up a third of the roster for the Scottish national handball squad.

With the team’s ascendency, Kennedy traded her coaching position for a managerial one where she oversees the program as a whole. Finding a new head coach for a team BBC Sport dubbed “a talent factory” was as effortless as it was auspicious. Kennedy’s replacement is Sarah Carrick, whose other gig is playing handball for the British national team.

All of this takes some of the sting out of Kennedy not being able to get those two Olympics tickets for herself back in 2012.

Kennedy’s visit was part of larger faculty exchange program. Last Spring, Learning Specialist Jill Englert kicked off the exchange when she spent a week teaching at Kelvinside and staying as a guest in Kennedy’s home. Englert returned the favor when Kennedy arrived stateside, setting aside time for a full Pennsylvania Dutch experience.

Spending Summer in the South African Winter

By Lauren M. ’18
Photos and video by Hayden F. ’20

On July 18 this past summer, three students and two teachers met before dawn at Lancaster Country Day to begin a 21-hour journey to Cape Town, South Africa. Every year, LCDS sends three students to study at the Herschel School for Girls and Bishops College for boys for a month-long exchange.

We would be staying with host families, but before we met them, we spent four days taking in Cape Town. We rode a cable car to the top of the magnificent Table Mountain, which overlooks the city, petted cheetahs, and explored Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for almost two decades.

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After these packed days, we met our host families. The students we stayed with will later come to stay with us and study at Country Day for eight weeks. For me, this was the best part about the trip because I was able to take in much more of the culture and experience more things authentically South African than I otherwise could have.

For the next four weeks of our time in Cape Town, my fellow students and I attended classes either at Bishops or Herschel, as well as participating in many activities with other exchange students and our host families. With my host family, I was able to attend a rugby match, go on a boat ride to observe wild flamingos, and visit the University of Cape Town.

The last week of the exchange we went on a tour of the Garden Route with all of the exchange students from places such as India, Spain and the U.K. that were currently attending Bishops or Herschel as well. The tour included a visit to an ostrich farm where the challenge was feeding the giant birds without getting bitten by one (not all of us succeeded at that).

The next day, we visited the Cango Wildlife Cheetah Ranch where we were able to observe various large cats as well as animals such as meerkats, alligators and pygmy hippos. The following day, we went ziplining in the morning and as if that weren’t enough of an adrenaline rush, students were given the option to go bungy jumping off of the Bloukrans Bridge, the highest commercial bungee jump bridge in the world. Finally, we visited an elephant sanctuary where we were able to walk around with and feed the elephants while learning about conservation.

The week — and the exchange as a whole — was full of friendship-making, adventures and experiences that I would have been unable to have anywhere else. Leaving was bittersweet because although we had to say goodbye to all the friends we had made and our host families, we knew we’d be able to see our host siblings again soon when they attend LCDS later this in the fall.