ICS is proud to be the only Round Square school in Zurich. Our membership in this prestigious global organization benefits students in numerous ways.
- School Exchanges
- ICS-led Service activities
- Round Square Conferences
- ICS-hosted Conference
- International Service Projects
As a member of Round Square, ICS can offer students additional opportunities for learning and personal development through international travel, adventure, service projects and school exchanges.
Round Square is a group of over 100 schools worldwide, all committed to encouraging students' development both in and beyond the classroom. Round Square schools promote six IDEALS of global citizenship: International Understanding, Democracy, Environmental Awareness, Adventure, Leadership and Service.
Find out more below about what Round Square offers to ICS students.
Students at Round Square schools have the opportunity to go on exchange to fellow Round Square schools. There are now more than 100 Round Square schools around the world with 60,000 students between them. So far, ICS students have visited Kenya, England, Peru, Denmark, Australia and Japan on school exchanges and more are planned.
Experiencing a different culture
"Being away [on a school exchange] meant I had to be responsible for myself and all my actions; and while that was a scary concept at first, it became better with time and I felt that it really boosted my independence and confidence. Because of this new-found independence, I am now able to go places or try new things on my own and feel comfortable."
Those are the words of Grade 9 student Joanne after returning from an overseas school exchange trip to United World College in Singapore.
Each year 10–12 ICS students participate in a student exchanges across the globe. All of them stay with an exchange student and then ICS welcomes those students when they come here.
The exchange programme gives students opportunities to go to new places and experience different cultures. It also gives them the opportunity to discover their independence and learn to be more responsible for themselves.
Grade 10 student Alexandra says: "There were times when I missed my friends but I was so blown away by all of the incredible experiences that I barely noticed. I think that, coming out of this exchange, I feel much more confident and independent. Now I know that I am capable dealing with unfamiliar situations without the support of my friends and family."
Robert says: "My host family was very accepting and fun to be around. I had a couple of short bouts of homesickness but the family was very supportive. I had to be ready to be around people I didn't know previously, especially the first week of school and that required a steely self confidence. The school was different to ICS in many ways, the best being the colossal amount of sporting options - and the biggest downside, probably, was having to wear a uniform."
Antoni says: "The whole experience of coming to a place I've never been before was very interesting. This exchange has definitely showed me a lot about the world and showed me many new experiences."
Exchange to Tamagawa College, Tokyo
Martin B went on exchange to Tamagawa College in Tokyo for a little over two months. As well as spending time at the College, he also got to see Tokyo and Hiroshima and to visit Guam.
As he explains here, at first he found it hard being in such an unfamiliar environment. But once he had settled in, it got better and now he feels that "the entire exchange was an absolutely fantastic experience that I definitely recommend to anyone." Here is his story.
After arriving in Japan, "it took me a week or two to get used to the routine in my new family and school," he says. "Everything was new and I didn’t know what to think of it all. I also missed my friends and family in Switzerland. At school, the students talked Japanese and were either shy to speak english or they didn’t want to make an effort. At that point, I didn’t feel too well in the new environment and would rather have been back in Switzerland in a situation I’m used to.
"However, after giving it two weeks, things really changed. I got used to life at my new home and people started talking to me at school and I managed to make plenty of friends. After those first two weeks I really enjoyed the exchange until the moment I came back home.
"Looking back at the first two weeks I think I became more independent as I didn’t always have someone to talk to, which in my opinion is one of the many good things I gained from the exchange. I was lucky I got a great family and got on very well with my host student. That made the entire exchange so much better.
"Overall, I think the entire exchange was an absolutely fantastic experience that I definitely recommend to anyone. It’s a great experience to be in a different country, ‘living’ with different people, hanging out with new friends and exploring the city you chose to go to.
"Some advice to people going on exchange: once you arrive not everything will be as you expected and you might not really like the exchange. Just give it some time and after a couple of weeks the exchange becomes amazing and you’ll likely enjoy it until the moment you leave.
Discover the curriculum programmes at ICS
Service with Round Square
Students in Grade 9 have undertaken a community service project with a local farm that rescues abandoned animals.
First the students visited the Hof Naar farm near ICS and learned about their philosophy and how they look after the animals they rescue.
Then the students spent a weekend clearing a field that could be used to grow crops to aid the self-sufficiency of the farm. Having produce to sell puts money back into the farm and supports the rescued goats, chickens, horses, ducks and pigs that would otherwise have gone to slaughter.
The third stage of this project is to raise money for a duck pond that we hope to build with the help of some ICS Science teachers. The students learned that ducks must have water deep enough to wash their heads as this helps prevent infection.
The students have begun fundraising and will continue to do so by catering at a number of other school events. An extra skill they are gaining from this project is learning how to bake, using many ingredients from the farm.
Helping schools in Tanzania & Nepal
Every year, students in Grade 9 are offered the chance of a Service & Personal Development trip. In recent years, students have gone to Tanzania to volunteer at two schools, meet local tribes people to learn about their way of life, and see some of the country.
They have also journeyed to Nepal, where they volunteered at the Shree Mangal Dvip School. This school gives children from remote Himalayan villages an education they would not otherwise receive. ICS students helped teach English and worked to turn an area of overgrown land into a vegetable garden where the school can grow maize and beans. Then they explored some of the countryside on a trek.
Before they go on these trips, our students learn some of the local language and run activities to raise funds to benefit the schools they visit.
'Planting the Roots of our Future'
By Grade 8 students Laura H and Francesco R: We went to Cobham Hall School in England to represent ICS at a conference called ‘Planting the Roots of our Future’. The conference was organized to help us learn how we can make our world more eco-friendly and be more respectful of our environment.
Two keynote speakers talked to us. Tracey West told us how we can live normally but respect nature more by simply changing certain little habits. We came out of that talk with a new view on how we can save the environment. We were also given a talk by a lady called Jill Butler about ancient trees, showing how interesting they are and how many hidden secrets they have. She taught us that ancient trees are not respected enough in many countries and that they should be, because they are part of our past. She motivated us to take more action to protect these trees from being cut down.
We also took part in activities including building a greenhouse out of plastic water bottles. This showed us that something small and simple to do can have a big knock-on effect. And we visited Shorne Woods Country Park, which entirely relies on renewable energy like solar energy and biomass combustion. This was an example of a perfect building which does not use polluting energy like oil or coal, and showed us how much of an impact taking action could make, as through this they were preserving their nearby forest.
An important message that came out of the conference was that you can live in the same way as you do now and still be more friendly to the environment. The conference was a great experience for us as it gave us the chance to expand our knowledge and meet many great new people. We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to go to this conference and have the privilege to come back and share this with the rest of the school.
Round Square Youth Conference on Environment and Sustainability
Three senior students travelled to a fellow Round school - Salem College in southern Germany - to attend a Round Square Youth Conference themed around the environment and sustainability.
Ehita, Elise and Valentina exchanged ideas about ways in which schools could cut their waste and consumption and improve their sustainability. They also listened to guest speakers and investigated the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
With the help of Mrs Campbell and Mr Osborne, the students delivered a talk to the conference outlining the environmental measures here in place at ICS. They had been pleasantly surprised by the “green” programme being pursued here at ICS and were obviously proud to share this with the students from other schools. Did you know for instance that all the toilets in the Secondary building are flushed with rain water collected from the roof?!
The conference concluded with student groups drawing up resolutions that might help make our schools more sustainable.
Learning through Adventure
ICS regularly hosts Round Square conferences, including adventure-themed events. Below is a description of one of those conferences.
It opened with an assembly where Mrs Mary-Lyn Campbell, Head of School, greeted delegates and urged them to seize the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom walls and make new friends while doing so. Then the action and adventure really got going.
Our 13-strong team of Round Square teachers ran a varied and intense three-day programme of activities, as our students relate. "We had the chance to participate in many exciting activities, including a breath-taking 3km sledge run and a picturesque hike in the beautiful Swiss mountains. We made snow caves, and enjoyed a curling lesson and ice-skating. The adventure did not stop there. On one activity, we went into the forest near the school and took on a tough (and sometimes frustrating) teamwork challenge to make our own fires using only four dry pieces of wood and four matches. This was not as easy as it first looked! Our teachers certainly tested our patience, our perseverance and our determination to complete the fire-making task and to cook tea!
"This was followed by a group art project with all 40 delegates, which took us on a very creative artistic journey. We formed groups, mixing ourselves among the different schools. It was a great idea as we had to work as a real team in order to create a concrete, do-able plan to represent the Round Square pillars in the most imaginative and diverse way possible. Another team of teachers then amazed us with a star-gazing activity. On Sunday we took part in a historical Zurich tour and then had to say goodbye to our new friends, promising to keep in touch and reflect on our shared learning."
"Thank you to everyone who supported this event and made it possible."
"During the ICS Young Round Square Conference I had a wonderful experience. I met some amazing friends, built an igloo, went sledding, hiking and curling. The entire conference was so much fun and I hope everyone who was at this conference can come again. All the activities were fun, and I think that everyone enjoyed them. One of my favorite parts of the conference was building a fire with some of my friends. Overall, the conference was super fun, and I wish it went on longer. Kathrine B.
"The theme was 'Action Through Adventure' and we participated in a variety of activities from sledging and a fire activity to ice-skating and curling, igloo-building and an art project designed to represent the six IDEALS of Round Square - Internationalism, Democracy, Environment, Adventure, Leadership, and Service. I enjoyed the conference because I was able to meet lots of new people and learn about where they were from. This was my first conference, and I think that I learned a lot from it. I made many new friends, and hope to see some of them at next year's conference! Ayush P.
"I thought the ICS Young Round Square Conference was awesome. It totally showed 'Action through Adventure'. I really loved curling because it was a new sport for me and it came out I was a natural talent. I made new friends and it was nice to communicate with other people. Thanks to all the schools that came, they were fantastic!" Luc S.
Round Square schools promote Adventure as a way for students to challenge themselves and test their perseverance and endurance. ICS students have taken part several times in the 'Dare' Adventure Race at St Gilgen School in Austria.
This very demanding race covers 30km for Senior students and 15 km for Junior students and includes checkpoints at which students are given cognitive and physical tasks such as rock climbing, raft building, riddles and word problems. See the slideshow of pictures here and below that, read what our students have to say about taking part:
Diederik V: “This year's Dare race was very fun, just like the previous years. Throughout the entirety of the race we tackled the challenges well and as a team. Winning 2nd place was an amazing experience for our team, but was also for me personally.”
Mina C: “We actually began the race with the one goal of crossing the finish line, but we were quickly swept away by the thrilling and motivating fast-pace of the entire race. It was one thing after another, with no time to stop to think about how many teams we had overtaken, so in no way did we expect to get third place!”
Kaan A: “The Dare Race really pushed all of us to the limits in exciting, difficult, and stretching challenges. It has also showed how important teamwork and dependancy was.”
Freya P: “I found the whole experience enjoyable, but particularly found the cognitive tasks we had to complete between the checkpoints as a team quite fun and interesting, it was something to take your mind off how far you still had to go, the heat and the fatigue! For me, rock climbing was most challenging as I hate heights! However, the St Gilgen staff were great at calming my nerves and my team mates really drove me on, I couldn't have done any of it without them, they're amazing!”
Louise E: “For our team, one of the most challenging parts was sticking together as a team and solving problems as a team. But, we completed it, and it was one of the most amazing feelings ever. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Round Square organises International Service Projects for students from its member schools. These bring together young people from all over the world in a team to provide assistance to disadvantaged communities. The students spend 2 to 3 weeks there doing work that is simple, of real local value and physically hard. The local community receives much-needed assistance and the young workers learn responsibility and selflessness and that they are needed by so many communities worldwide.