"Doing Good - International School Students Giving To Those In Need"
Magazine: Expat Living & pdf - January 2018
At GESS, service is an integral part of our learning program. We try to encourage students to appreciate their cultural roots while remaining respectful towards and interested in different cultures as well as contribute positively to their community. As such, service is deeply embedded not only within the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) program but also within the Middle Years Programme (MYP) curriculum of the European Section. All subject areas offer service projects linked to students’ learning. For example, Grade 6 students reading and studying the novel ‘No turning back’ by Beverly Naidoo were inspired to get in touch with Hearts for Homeless and fundraise to buy essential items for people living on the streets.
We operate on a variety of scales, partnering with organizations both outside of Singapore as well as within. Current interesting projects include working with charities in Cambodia. For a few years now we have been working with Tabitha Foundation, who provide opportunities to educate students about poverty, develop new skills and connect with local people. Our Grade 10 students fundraise prior to leaving and learn about microfinancing to alleviate poverty. Students sometimes find the building a challenge but feel a real sense of accomplishment and see the benefits of the work they are doing when meeting the families who live in them. Another charity we volunteer with is Husk, who work in the small villages of Treak & Kompheim in Cambodia. Through their volunteering program students have built school facilities out of recycled plastic bottles. Students were able to see the benefits of using these materials to help develop education in these areas sustainably.
Locally, we work alongside many charities including RDA Singapore, Willing Hearts, mangrove replanting for National Parks and Touch in their elderly program. With Touch, we encourage students in Grade 8 to learn about the challenges the elderly face in Singapore by painting plant pots with them for Chinese New Year as well as organizing a games afternoon. Our students often don’t realize some of the issues the elderly face with declining dexterity and we encourage them to design games where they can be played without difficulty and the instructions communicated easily due to a lack of English.
Service is a huge part of what we do at GESS and we try to provide students with opportunities wherever we can by working with all types of organizations. Much of our program is student-led and we aim to empower our students to take action, foster international mindedness and be responsible citizens.
Author: Laura Fryer, Global Concerns and Engagement Coordinator