Sarvodaya: “The World We Wish to See”

By Mark Friedman, Round Square Coordinator and Community Service Director

We are having a wonderful time at the Round Square International Conference in Madhya Pradesh, India hosted by The Emerald Heights International School. Morgan G. ’22, Chris C. ’21, and Nathan M. ’21 are doing a great job of reaching out and are making lots of new connections.

We started our trip in Mumbai. We visited the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Rabajai Clock Tower; markets; Dhobi Ghat, the world’s largest outdoor laundry; and Dharavi, the world’s third-largest slum. We also got to spend time with Harnoor, a former exchange student to Athenian who flew down from Delhi to meet us.

The conference theme is Sarvodaya, which means “the world we wish to see.” The Emerald Heights International School describes Sarvodaya as follows:

“The theme of the conference is Sarvodaya-The world we wish to see. Sarvodaya is a Sanskrit word meaning progress for all. The word is a combination of two terms: ‘Sarva’ meaning one and all and ‘Uday’ meaning welfare or uplift. Combined the word signifies ‘Universal Uplift’. Very appropriately the conference is scheduled in the week when the world celebrates the Mahatma’s [Gandhi’s] 150th Birth Anniversary and the week that follows is dedicated to non-violence and peace. This is in keeping with our school’s philosophy.”

Conference Facebook page

The keynote speakers at the conference have been a diverse lot. We heard from Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi on the 150thanniversary of Gandhi’s birth. Other keynote speakers include a member of parliament who worked with the United Nations for 30 years, an Indian performance artist from LA, and a robot.

Every evening includes an hour-long cultural performance from conference delegates. Weather willing, this is followed by an outdoor dinner buffet with a huge spread of food and outstanding dance performances. Each evening has a special theme and is truly spectacular.

We have met the folks from Chanderbala Modi Academy, the school that is hosting us after the conference. The conference delegates are the ones who are hosting our students and they seem very excited to host.

The monsoon season refuses to end, so we have had a couple of rainstorms, some with intense wind. We are having a great time and we look forward to spending time at the Chanderbala Modi Academy!