It all started with one man's vision. He dreamt of a world where education would not be confined to complex mathematical derivations and chemical formulae. Knowledge would exceed the boundaries of classrooms.

He believed in equipping children with the basic skills and values that ensure the overall development of character. His dream became reality in 1967 when the Round Square Organisation officially came into existence at Gordonstoun, Scotland.

The man was Kurt Hahn, founder and patron of Round Square. His desire to instil a thirst for selfless service in schoolchildren paved the way for the formation of this organisation.

Round Square is a worldwide association of more than 70 schools. Students attending Round Square schools make a commitment to personal development and responsibility. This is achieved by participating in community service, work projects, exchange programmes and adventure trips which can and often do take students half way around the world.

The Millennium School (TMS) in Dubai was made a permanent member of the Round Square in 2008. However, our courtship with the organisation dates back to 2004 when it was first introduced in the school.

Conferences, service projects, environmental drives and voluntary work within and outside the community are a regular part of Round Square schools. TMS regularly conducts can and newspaper collection drives. The school encourages students to bring out the spirit of leadership by means of a student governing body.

"Leaders aren't born, they are made," said Michael Guzder, principal of TMS. "A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. And this is only possible through hard work, determination and a desire to excel that Round Square helps instil in students."

Students often go on service projects to various parts of the world. Meghana Nair, a former TMS student, went on one project to Jaidwar, India, and helped build a community centre for the villagers.

"We stayed in a place without proper housing, toilet facilities, no phone connection - absolutely cut off from the rest of the world," she said. "After coming back to Dubai I realised how lucky I am to be living in the lap of luxury, with access to an excellent education and all those things that previously seemed so basic to me."

In order to become a member of the Round Square club at TMS, students have to show their commitment by completing a minimum number of hours of voluntary work during the summer holidays.

As president of the club at TMS, I believe more avenues for voluntary work need to be created in the UAE.

Shyama Dore', coordinator of RS activities at TMS sums it up. "The world today is in dire need of youth who are aware of the ills that are plaguing humanity and, more importantly, committed to actively contributing towards resolving those ills. Round Square equips students with the necessary skills and opportunities to do this."

-The writer is a grade 11 student and president of the Round Square club at the Millennium School, Dubai fast facts Round Square schools are founded on a philosophy that embraces six precepts summed up in the word IDEALS. They are:
- Internationalism
- Democracy
- Environment
- Adventure
- Leadership
- Service