Round Square Service Project - Borneo

Mr Daniel Emmerson, Director of Global Education

Every year, Felsted students have the opportunity to embark on Round Square Service Projects in different countries around the world. These are actively advertised and promoted each year, and we often send a small cohort of students to take part in them. As the Director of Global Education, I was very keen to find out what these Service Projects entail and what they look like on the ground.

The Service Project in December 2019 took place in a small village about 45 miles East of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo. It involved the construction of a new building for an orphanage site with a group of 47 students from within the worldwide Round Square network.

As soon as the students arrived in Malaysia, they were relieved of their mobile phones and any electronic equipment, so that they would remain completely engaged with the local community and with their immediate environment. I was immediately struck by how willing and keen each student was to take this policy on board. Each participant then proceeded to throw themselves into the project in the hope that their efforts would truly make a difference. 

Within the scope of Service Learning, it is often quite difficult to gauge the benefit of each activity. Every participant needs to be aware that they are a guest in a new community and that their involvement could have a long lasting impact, for better or worse. The focus of the Round Square Big Build, however, is to create something sustainable and beneficial for the future, and that is what made this project so worthwhile. 
The building, which will provide a sustainable source of income for the orphanage while also providing accommodation for any visiting volunteers, consisted of basic trenches and form work when we arrived on site. The proposed structure had no road access at all, so most of the building materials needed to be carried by hand across fields and dirt tracks.

In spite of the challenges,we collectively managed to build what would have otherwise taken months to achieve without our support. Although the building is not finished, we made substantial progress and the community was delighted with what we were able to accomplish. 
The experience was truly unique, and it gave me a real insight as to the sorts of opportunities that are available to our students each and every year. Indeed, there are projects coming up in Tanzania, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Mr Daniel Emmerson
Director of Global Education

Round Square at Felsted