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In the Name of Love

January, 2018
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International school students are mostly a privileged group. Born to financially robust families, they are blessed with access to everything they need, from the most basic accommodation to the fanciest products..

Yet these youngsters are learning, or have learnt, not to take all that they have for granted. In a world that is increasingly becoming a global village, they are thinking big and far beyond themselves.

During the Christmas season, when lots of charity-oriented activities, such as winter fairs and bazaars take place in different schools, LittleStar Magazine talked with some of the students and teachers about the projects and programs they are engaged in, which aim at helping those who are less privileged than the students themselves.

 

Seeds of Hope at YCIS Beijing

ycis-beijing-charity1On 12 December, the Christmas Bazaar was held at Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing). An event purely for charity, the bazaar saw students from Years 6 to 13 hold stalls to sell their wide range of handmade products from baked goods to handcrafted gifts.

According to Hayley Edge, YCIS Beijing Student Council, all school-based charity work at YCIS Beijing is now under the umbrella term Seeds of Hope, which is a concept born out of the overwhelming tragedy of the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. A recent project is the kick-off of the Seeds of Hope charity bracelet line, where each month a new limited edition design is launched and sold within the school for RMB 10.

In the meantime, many of the YCIS Beijing students set up clubs to raise funding for NGOs with which the school works, such as Starfish, Help a Child Smile and Dew Drops. Each club can have five to twenty students, in which they organize their own agenda, meet a schedule and outline the strategies they are going to use to achieve their group’s objectives for the year.

“Taking part in these activities give the students an opportunity to learn in a more practical way than can often be accomplished in the classroom. This real authentic learning cannot be planned, and often has more long-lasting impacts on the students. I’ve even seen from my experience of an economics teacher that these activities allow students to have real life examples which help them understand the tricky theoretical content of economics much easier as they can say they’ve seen the theory happen in real life,” says Edge.

 

Nightingale Charity Club at ISB

charity-articl-isb4One of the major student-run service clubs at International School of Beijing (ISB) is Nightingale Charity Club (NCC), which is aimed at helping young children through orphanage visits and fundraisers.

“We frequently visit an orphanage in Langfang, Hebei Province, where they hold various fun activities such as arts and crafts and active team-building games. Through our relationship with the children, we try to bring love and fun into their lives and in doing so we have created long-lasting bonds; and in many ways, these qualities are reciprocated back to us - interacting and being in the presence of their cute, happy faces, is truly a rewarding experience… Through dedicating our love and time towards the children, we create lasting bonds with our Langfang brothers and sisters and create memories with them that we will cherish for years to come,” reflects ISB Grade 12 student Kelsey W.

Through various fundraisers, NCC is also providing care and support to children in China who are in urgent need of medical care.

“Our funds last year went towards three kids in Xinjiang suffering from life-threatening heart diseases. Through the help of the Roundabout Charity Organization, we were able to transfer RMB 60,000 to the families and help fund for their surgeries,” ISB Grade 12 student Cynthia L. says.

Both Kelsey and Cynthia consider the annual Winter Fair to be the most memorable NCC event, where kids from the Langfang orphanage and Bethel, another local orphanage, are invited. This not only brings excitement to the Langfang and Bethel kids by taking them outside the environment that they are used to, it also allows members of the ISB community to be able to experience the rare opportunity of interacting with these local kids.

 

BSB Myanmar and Tanzania Projects

bsb-myanmar-project-3At the British School of Beijing (BSB), students plan and organize by themselves trips to Myanmar to teach local students English. They arrange fundraising, visas, airline tickets, hotel booking and purchase of the goods required by the monastery they partner with in this project.

Year 13 students Sabrina Zhang and Sunny Hwang were the main runners of the project last year. Zhang feels it very inspiring to be able to experience a different culture first hand and get to know the local people: “The project really made me realize how lucky I am and how privileged my life is. It was clear that the kind of life we are accustomed to and are taking for granted is beyond imagination to a lot of less fortunate people around the world.”

For Hwang, it is the change that they have helped make that matters the most, “when we were in Old Bagan, we found out that there is no plastic recycling system and people simply burnt plastic to dispose of them. We then decided to raise awareness about plastic along with teaching children English, Sports, and Arts. In one particular remote village school, two days after we taught children about plastic, we found out that children have cleared the entire dam area by picking up plastic waste. This was the most rewarding part of our project because our teaching led to a direct change in the children’s local community.”

Their Year 13 peers Cadogan Dethick and Caio Motta, on the other hand, participated in the BSB school-led Tanzania Project, which raised money for helping impoverished families in Tanzanian rural areas.

According to Motta, who went to Tanzania with a group of classmates including Dethick, the BSB students performed various activities, such as building tables and desks for children to study on, constructing goat sheds with food support, building smokeless stoves, setting up solar panels for houses for electric availability as well as beginning the construction of a school. Apart from that, he and his friends even attempted to speak the local Swahili language with the children as they sought to further interact with the locals and comprehend their culture and traditions to a greater extent.

To Dethick, the most meaningful part of the trip would be the fact they not only helped local communities there but also provided them with a sustainable and easy way to maintain solutions to problems. “These activities taught me the importance of giving back to those who are less fortunate in life… When you have improved a person’s life in a meaningful way for the better and knowing you have done so, it is the most rewarding feeling.”

“All these activities impact the students in a variety of ways and always on a different personal level… They learn things with an impact that is almost impossible to replicate in the classroom. Experiential learning helps form and develop the characters of our students. They are our leaders of tomorrow and we want them to be aware of the problems outside of their own personal arenas,” concludes BSB IB CAS coordinator Colleen Usher.

 

Days for Girls Club at CISB

cisb-daysforgirls1In the beginning of the last school year, Canadian International School of Beijing (CISB) student Ellie Giles initiated the Days for Girls Club at school.

Members of the club make kits containing feminine hygiene materials, such as washable pads, washcloths and panties, which are to be distributed to girls in developing regions who don’t have the materials needed to manage their menstruation cycles.

The name “Days for Girls” came from the idea that given these kits, the girls are able to take more control of their menstruation, so that they don’t have to stay at home and wait for it to end, as they otherwise typically do during that week of the month, explains Giles, who states that Days for Girls itself is a US-based organization which does the distribution of the similar kits her club makes. Giles got the idea of starting the club from her mother who works for the organization.

“We are learning how to sew, we cut the fabric to make the kits, and we learn about the kind of situation girls in developing countries are going through,” says Giles.

The club so far has attracted fifteen CISB students from Grades 6 to 12, including Paris Stewart and Jacqueline Morris, both in Grade 11 and the core members together with Giles.

They have until now created about 600 kits, distributed to countries like Nepal, Cambodia and some African countries. That means a lot of days, during which these girls can go to school or work to support their families, instead of having to sit at home.

All of the funding needed is raised by the club members through various means, such as selling bakery at school events like the CISB Christmas Bazaar.

“It’s really satisfying to see we are actually helping people. We actually see where they are getting distributed. Sometimes we get updates from the girls talking about what they are doing with their lives now, and just how far they can go with just one kit,” says Stewart.

Morris wants to emphasize the importance of awareness raising, “Until Ellie had brought this forward, I just assumed that everybody can take care and manage their menstruation cycles. I don’t think a lot of people are very aware of what other people’s situations are like, and that those people don’t have access to the things that we have access to.”

She is echoed by Melissa Dickinson, teacher advisor for the program, “I try to imbed that empathy into students. Sometimes it’s really hard to find authentic opportunities for the kids to cultivate that empathy into themselves. I think Days for Girls is a great opportunity.”

Another teacher advisor Ryan Walsh believes that the students also benefit from such activities by getting real-world, hands-on experience, as they are really student-centered and created by the students themselves all along.

 

Charity Activities at Wellington Tianjin

community-service_a-level-wellington-tianjinAccording to Maja Rogic, Charity Coordinator at Wellington College International Tianjin,
pupils at the College have been taking part in different charity activities, fundraising events and school trips in support of those in need and the environment.

Yearly programs include the Pink Day, for breast cancer awareness, the Movember, raising awareness of men’s health, and a charity sleepover in aid of local schools. The college also hosts three big events every year that raise funding for charity: the Christmas Bazaar, the Chinese New Year market and the Summer Fair.

There are also school trips to Cambodia and Malaysia, as well as within China, with a focus on raising pupils’ awareness of helping those less fortunate and the environment – building houses, decorating schools in rural parts of China, cleaning beaches, and planting trees.
The Wellington community holds that kindness is an important part of every individual. Through showing consideration for others and acting selflessly for their benefit, the students grow as “well-rounded individuals with strong values.” It is believed that by planting the seed of caring about others and the wider community will help the pupils become considerate and compassionate members of the world.

“We believe that it is our responsibility to give back, not only to the community we are part of, but to the global community as well. It is part of our mission and is embodied in our Wellington identity and values,” says Rogic.

  

By Qin Chuan

 

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