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Community - Students in Action

February, 2012
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scis-pd-giving-tree-1lChristmas – New Year – Christmas…

During this time when we are all celebrating “Double Happiness” - a festive season filled with the spirit of love, joy and giving, LittleStar finds a bunch of teenagers in Shanghai who have learned that the greater joy of Christmas or New Year comes from the opportunity to practice generosity, and extend love to the whole community.


SCIS Interacts with Love

On December 9th, the eleventh grade members of the Interact Club at Shanghai Community International School (SCIS), Pudong campus had the opportunity to partake in a truly remarkable experience – participating in The Giving Tree’s giving ceremony at the Yuan Hang Migrant School, which is a 45-minute journey outside of the city.

SCIS nobly collected over 200 Giving Tree bags each stuffed with warm coats, hats, gloves, school supplies, toothbrushes, toothpaste and toys.

Interact members began their efforts by promoting The Giving Tree and its worthy cause to each Advisory class in the SCIS Pudong Upper School. Students and families listened to their pleas and gave generously, with many families contributing multiple bags.

A short ceremony of appreciation to welcome the SCIS group, including a thank you speech from Yuan Hang’s principal and student MC, three dance performances and a great big “xie xie” from the entire student body. SCIS responded by expressing their thoughts and best wishes, also in the form of a short speech by student organizers Marcus Ingvarsson and Alex Yin. As a grand finale, all Interact students assisted in teaching the children of Yuan Hang School an English lesson with the song “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.

As the ceremony concluded, the Interact students split into teams, working in different classrooms to hand out The Giving Tree gift bag to each student. The atmosphere in the room was beyond joyous as students hugged their bag like a pot of gold and ran back to their desks to peek inside. Children screamed in jubilation as they jumped up and down, unable to contain their elation. Others ran throughout the room showing off items from their bags. A sea of smiles stretched across the classroom to the roar of laughter. 

scis-pd-giving-treeAfter the Giving Tree project, Interact students plan to take the migrant school students (Besides Yuan Hang Migrant School, SCIS students are also supporting another migrant school) to the SCIS campus and teach them sports programs, according to Allison Yang, Interact Club President. One of their future plans is to buy a bus, so that they can go to the migrant school or bring them over to SCIS campus to teach and play sports with them, as SCIS has better facilities.

As one of the longest running and most popular of the co-curricular activities at SCIS Pudong, Interact has about 40 members from the 9th to 12th grade. The purpose of Interact is to promote student involvement in community and international service. Interact students have assisted in water development projects in China and engaged in Habitat for Humanity projects in Cambodia to build homes.

Since last September, Interact students have been working with the WILL foundation and raised more than 2000 RMB by baking and selling cookies and giving a wine tasting for adults. They regularly go to Chongming Island just outside of Shanghai to work on the educational center that is being built there. Once the center is constructed, our students will work with children there to teach them music, sports, language and dance.

“After seeing the smiles, you are happy for the children; you are happy for yourself; it is a huge accomplishment.” – SCIS Interact.



Volunteer Power – Free English and Sports for Local Children

Getting up on Saturday mornings is not an easy thing for most teenagers. But for Vicky Phua, an 11th grader at Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), she has to get up early every Saturday morning and go back to school before 10 o’clock.

Vicky has been a volunteer teacher for the Free English Academy at WISS for more than one year. The program runs from 10 to 11:30 am.

Vicky’s student is a grade 8 student at Xujing Middle School. She mainly helps him to improve his essay writing skills and reading comprehension. “I’ll ask him to write an essay in his tutorial lesson every week. I will give him different topics each time, and he needs to write about 80 words," said Vicky. "Recently he told me he got almost full points for the writing part in an exam." Pronunciation is a common issue with most Chinese children. Each time, Vicky asked the student to read a few paragraphs and corrected him word by word.

wissAntonia Martinic, grade 10, and Shay Page, grade 6, are also volunteer teachers for the Saturday English program. They mainly teach  English words and spelling. Shay teaches 3 students English. To encourage the students, Shay even offered to buy them a coke if they really learn well. In his first lesson, Shay noticed there was a little girl who didn’t want to do anything. He figured out her favorite fruit is orange, so Shay gave her an orange.

"It feels like all the students are all interested in learning English, it makes you happy to see them trying so hard," said Antonia.

The Saturday morning free English Academy has been running for the last 4 years at WISS. The classes average 20-25 student/parent volunteer English Teachers to match up one-on-one with a local young student. The WISS administration and parents provide the funding for textbooks for the English instruction.

Nowadays, there are more local children coming to the English Academy, so they have to run the program in 5 classrooms.

On Sunday afternoons, from 1 to 2:30 pm, Shay is also in charge of a sports program for the local children. These children usually go to public schools and they don’t have many sports programs. Shay, his brother and his friend Mark teach American football, soccer and basketball to local children of their age on the WISS sports field.

“More and more kids are coming, around 30 now, so we definitely need to find more teachers,” said the boy.

Teaching people English or playing sports may not be as difficult as you think, but a lot of patience and perseverance is needed.

"For the Chinese children, learning English is like building a bridge to the world. I am so glad I am helping out! 1.5 hours is not so much…" – WISS Volunteers



Leo Lee: A Concert for Charity

During the lunchtime of December 15th, 2011, a special concert entitled "Harmony for Turkey" was taking place in the auditorium of Shanghai Singapore International School, Minhang campus. Secondary students took the stage and performed with solo songs, bands and duet for a huge audience of about 300 people including parents, teachers and students.

The concert was a fundraising event for the earthquake victims in Turkey. The fundraising charity concert was organized by SSIS final year IB MYP candidate and SSIS Student Councilor, Leo Lee.

“My initial goal was to compose a few pieces to produce a CD album; however I came about wondering whether my composed pieces could be used for a better cause,” said Leo, an enthusiastic composer. “That very day, the Earthquake in the city called Van, Turkey occurred and I decided that I should organize and hold a concert with my pieces.”

img_3212-copyLeo has helped out in a few bake sales at school, but this was the first time he had organized a concert for charity.

Juggling concert preparation and academic work was not easy. It took him a few months to compose and practice the songs that were performed in the concert. As he was busy with rehearsals, his classmates supported him by selling tickets, ushering and assuming the roles of stage crews. But it was still quite challenging as he and other performers all still had coursework and other tasks due.

There were two time slots for this event on December 15th: 11:40 am to 12:10 noon and 12:30 to 1:00 pm. The ticket for adults was 20 RMB and 10 RMB for students. Leo planned to raise about 6000 RMB from the ticket sales. However as ticket sales progressed and more and more people made donations, he finally raised a total of 10,108.9 RMB, which was donated to the earthquake victims in Turkey.

Special guests at the concert included the Consul General for Turkey, Ms. Deniz Eke and Vice Consul Ms. Sevgi Kisacik. They thanked Leo and the students for the concert, which was described as emotional. They also gave Leo a T-shirt of the national football team of Turkey as a thank you gift..

“I view music as a powerful tool which can do things others cannot, which, I think, is effective in bringing out people’s sympathy and delivering great messages.” – Leo Lee, SSIS



2012 Calendar: Pets of SAS

What is on your 2012 Calendar? Do you fancy images of Hollywood Stars, beautiful National Geographic photos or class photos of your children and their school?

Many of Shanghai American School’s Pudong community bought their calendars at the PTA Bazaars in early December – PETS of SAS, which features nice shots of cats and dogs on every page.

The PETS of SAS calendar is the latest and largest project organized by Animal Rescue (AR), a service club at SAS Pudong High School.

This was their second annual PETS of SAS calendar, again a complete SAS student creation. AR members have been busy over the past few months, and every member is involved. At school, they call for people to submit pictures of their cats and dogs, and everyone will be guaranteed a spot in the calendar as long as they submit a picture.

sas-ar-girls“We have received hundreds of submissions. Then we had to pick the top shots and vote as a club to decide which pictures get bigger spots in the calendar,” said Regan Plekenpol, a co-leader at Animal Rescue. “This was a very good awareness-raising event as it was a school-wide project and everybody was involved.” The AR members who are good with computers and designs designed the calendar. On the due date, they stayed at school overnight to complete the design and send it to the printer in order to catch the Christmas sales at school.

On the day of SAS Pudong PTSA Winter Bazaar, AS has almost sold out all of the 350 calendars they printed this year. They were able to raise 40,000 to 50,000 RMB for JAR – Jaiya’s Animal Rescue. JAR is a non-profit organization, with a mission to rescue, provide medical care, and find lasting families for animals living on the street.

Animal Rescue was started at SAS Pudong 3 years ago, and is now the largest student club at Shanghai American School, Pudong campus with around 200 members.Regan and Karissa Huang and Jiayi Zhou are the main leaders of the club. They are all animal lovers: Reagan has several cats, and one of them has only 3 legs; Karissa has a dog and Jiayi has raised about 20 birds.

“I have a pet myself. I feel it is an important issue for me to save animals,” said Karissa.

“Our school is situated next to a village; we don’t always see dogs and cats being treated very well around there. This is just the general situation in Shanghai. This is something we want to prevent from happening because it is part of our daily life,” added Jiayi.

The girls attributed the popularity of their club to the fact that they have a lot of projects for the club members. Generally, they have 3 main projects going on throughout the year: the Movie Night, weekly Shelter Visits and the annual calendar.. Besides this, there are AR members who set up traps every morning and are charge of that trap for the week. Last year, they caught 11 cats, and 4 of them have been adopted. There are also a lot of awareness raising projects targeted at the Middle School and Elementary School students. Members will always bring up new project ideas at the regular Monday meetings when the whole Animal Rescue club gathers together to decide on their next move.

“As an international school, we have a lot of means to make a difference. And we have to become role models for our community.” – SAS Pudong Animal Rescue.



Fantastic 4 at YCIS: Selling for Charity

With a simple purpose to help children and people who are suffering or need help, four brave Year 9 girls at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai created their own charity organization – Freedom By Solidarity (FBS).

fbs-girls-at-ycisAt the start FBS was supposed to be just a name for a group of friends, but these 4 girls – Magdalena, Marion, Paula and Emilie – decided to change the meaning of FBS.

“We wanted to change it to something bigger and more helpful in a way that would help people all over the world. So, now the meaning of FBS is much more than before: FBS is a group created to help the poor, solve problems and save the environment by creating peace.”

Magdalena is from Poland and she loves reading and sports. Marion is from France and she loves to read and make stuff. Paula, from Brazil, has a great passion for technology. Emilie is half French and half Chinese, and she likes watching and directing movies.

Coming from different backgrounds, the girls insist it is their friendship that bonds them and motivates them to do something together. “We have that kind of friendship: sleepovers, meetings and counting on each other for borrowing lunch cards! Even though we are from different countries, speak different languages and have different cultures, we always do our best to give a needed shoulder to each other.”

All of them took part in creating the FBS Charity. Emilie had the great idea of making a group of friends; Paula thought about using the group to raise money; Marion thought about using the group to donate the money to charity and Magdalena had the idea of selling bracelets to get the money.

The main source of funding for the FBS Charity is selling their bracelets. “We are selling bracelets to make the charity grow so we will be able to help more people that are suffering and need help all over China.” When they started this idea, they weren’t that popular. So they decided to put posters around school and set up their website (http://fbscharity.weebly.com/) during the last summer vacation.

Now when you check through their web pages, there are 6 categories of bracelets, from simple to complicated, priced from 10 to 25 RMB each. There are also rings, which are miniatures of the bracelets. For each product, there are different colors for people to choose. The girls even created a special FBS client card to promote sales with further discounts or to accumulate points just like air miles for the customers. Their site is now receiving many views every day.

Their objective now is to help a little girl called Anna. After gaining 1000 RMB, they will donate the money to this girl so she can be operated on and have a normal life with education and happiness.

Their duties in the project are neat and clear: Marion contacts people and receives information about the girl they wish to help. Paula is the ICT manager and meetings organizer, she did the website and checks the email for orders from the clients. Magdalena and Emilie are manufacturing the bracelets and creating new product ideas. Emilie also finds different types of bracelets for FBS to sell.

“Right now we have reached 800 RMB. We still need more money to help the girl,” said Magdalena. “We feel like it will be a success if we have the right support and if people see from the same point of view as us.”  

“Never give up, because you can make a difference!” – FBS girls.



By XING Yangjian


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